Everyday Tidbits...

The sun is shining and the sky is blue. My doors and windows are open.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets...Review

About the book:
Set in 1950s London, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets centers around Penelope, the wide- eyed daughter of a legendary beauty, Talitha, who lost her husband to the war. Penelope, with her mother and brother, struggles to maintain their vast and crumbling ancestral home—while postwar London spins toward the next decade's cultural revolution.

Penelope wants nothing more than to fall in love, and when her new best friend, Charlotte, a free spirit in the young society set, drags Penelope into London with all of its grand parties, she sets in motion great change for them all. Charlotte's mysterious and attractive brother Harry uses Penelope to make his American ex-girlfriend jealous, with unforeseen consequences, and a dashing, wealthy American movie producer arrives with what might be the key to Penelope's— and her family's—future happiness.

Vibrant, witty, and filled with vivid historical detail, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is an utterly unique debut novel about a time and place just slipping into history.

An absolutely delightful book. I think I'm going to go out and get my own copy so I can reread it.

In post World War 2 England, rationing is ending, grand houses are tumbling down from neglect and lack of money and families are learning to cope with the losses of husbands and fathers.

In this setting, 18-year old Penelope's life changes when she accepts a cab ride with an unknown young woman and enjoys tea with the girl's eccentric aunt and cousin. How can you not enjoy a book with Hollywood stars, Elvis wannabees, the 50s and even "fairy godmothers" in the form of a charming young man? The mysterious appearance of the evening gown in Penelope's room on the eve of the big dinner was wonderful.

Eva Rice's terrific novel is reminiscent of Rosamunde Pilcher in some ways: the voice, the setting of post-WW2 in England, beautiful descriptions and a delightful heroine. The characters are memorable and entertaining. This would make a charming film.

It's romantic without being sappy or fluffy. Funny and heartwarming at the same time. Not only a must-read, but a definite re-read as well!

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 4/08

* * * *

4/5 Stars

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Winding Ways Quilt...Review

About the book:
Quilters have flocked to Elm Creek Manor to learn from Master Quilter Sylvia Compson and her expert colleagues. There's Sarah, Sylvia's onetime apprentice who's paired her quilting accomplishments with a mind for running the business of Elm Creek Quilts; Agnes, who has a gift for appliqué; Gwen, who stitches innovative art quilts; Diane, a whiz at the technicalities of quick-piecing; and Bonnie, with her encyclopedic knowledge of folk art patterns. But with Judy and Summer, two other founding members of the Elm Creek Quilters, departing to pursue other opportunities, will the new teachers be able to fill in the gaps created by the loss of their expertise -- and more important, their friendship?

"When I think of all the different paths I could have followed in my life, all the twists and turns that could have led me anywhere," muses incoming teacher Gretchen, "it's something of a miracle that I ended up here, surrounded by loving friends."

But what of friends departed? As Sylvia contemplates a tribute to the partnership of the Elm Creek Quilters, she is reminded of a traditional quilt pattern whose curved pieces symbolize a journey. Winding Ways, a mosaic of overlapping circles and intertwining curves, would capture the spirit of their friendship at the moment of its transformation.


Will Sylvia's choice inspire the founding members to remember that each is a unique part of a magnificent whole? Will the newcomers find ways to contribute, and to earn their place?
The Winding Ways Quilt considers the complicated, often hidden meanings of presence and absence, and what change can mean for those who have come to rely upon one another.

Like the other Elm Creek books, this one includes all of the Elm Creek Quilters. Two are finally going their own ways and leaving Waterford. Three new ones are joining the group. Sylvia decides to create a new quilt honoring all the quilters. As with several of the other books, each woman is highlighted in a chapter and while history is retold, new information is included. However, little new insight is gained, yet each one "adds" something to the new quilt.

The story is well crafted and entertaining. Fortunately, Chiaverini finally adds a bit of closure and could end her series with this book. My gut tells me that because Sarah is pregnant we will see a story of her finally reconciling with her mother (although there is some closure in this book about that conflict). Since two new quilters and a cook will be joining the Elm Creek group, a new book chronicling their acceptance is also possible.

My feelings are mixed as to whether I welcome additional books. You can have too much of a good thing sometimes. I think this is a good place to end the series. But time will tell as to what happens.

An easy, entertaining read.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 4/08

* * *

3/5 Stars

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chocolat...Review

About the book:
Try me...Test me...Taste me. When an exotic stranger, Vianne Rocher, arrives in the French village of Lansquenet and opens a chocolate boutique directly opposite the church, Father Reynaud identifies her as a serious danger to his flock - especially as it is the beginning of Lent, the traditional season of self-denial. War is declared as the priest denounces the newcomer's wares as instruments of murder. Suddenly, Vianne's shop-cum-cafe means that there is somewhere for secrets to be whispered, grievances to be aired, dreams to be tested. But Vianne's plans for an Easter Chocolate Festival divide the whole community in a conflict that escalates into a 'Church not Chocolate' battle. As mouths water in anticipation, can the solemnity of the Church compare with the pagan passion of a chocolate eclair? For the first time, here is a novel in which chocolate enjoys its true importance, emerging as a moral issue, as an agent of transformation - as well as a pleasure bordering on obsession. Rich, clever and mischievous, this is a triumphant read.

I adored the film. It's one of my favorites. So, when I discovered that it was based on a book, I had to read it. And, it's not a bad book. The film adaptation is quite different, although many of the characters are the same. For instance, in the book, Reynaud is the priest not the mayor and Caroline Clairmont is not a widow working for him. Armande is still feisty and Guillaume sweet. Josephine also appears prominently. Roux was far more appealing on screen: I wonder why? ;)

There is more depth the the story and it's very much a story about family: a story about mothers and daughters. Vianne also managed to connect with the villagers, despite their priest's disapproval. She's unusual and an outsider and sells chocolate. There is a lot of mysteriousness in the narration: is Vianne really a witch? Is Armande a witch? Will the pagan win out against the church?

I didn't find this story as charming or as magical as the film. I liked the changes made in the film adaptation and I thought Vianne was much more likable in the film, than in the book. I didn't connect with her voice. I suppose the book's ending was more true to Vianne's character, but I loved the film's ending more.

So, I don't normally say this but I prefer the film. This novel was hard for me to get into. It was one of those that I needed to force myself to finish.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 4/08


1/5 Stars

Monday, April 7, 2008

Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom...Review

About the book:
Dr. Christiane Northrup’s vision of mind-body wellness has received an extraordinary response from women all over the world. Her groundbreaking classic, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, powerfully demonstrates that when women change the basic conditions of their lives that lead to health problems, they heal faster, more completely, and with far fewer medical interventions.

Here in this revised edition is the most up-to-date information available on the entire range of women’s health concerns, including:

• A nutrition chapter emphasizing individual dietary needs and body chemistry
• Information on improving fertility after age 35–and how to cut the risk of C-section by 50 percent
• A comprehensive program for menopause, including how to decide whether natural hormone replacement is right
• Holistic ways to prepare and heal faster if surgery is necessary
• Plus dozens of natural treatments and a wealth of hard-to-find health care resources

Filled with dramatic case histories from her medical practice in Maine, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom is contemporary medicine at its best, combining new technologies with natural remedies and the miraculous healing powers within the body itself.

I thought this was an interesting book. Fascinating on many levels. I didn't purchase it, I borrowed it from the library. However, I think it would be a good reference book to have in your health library. It's really not one I would just sit down and read cover to cover, but it is one I would refer back to over and over again.

Northrup talks a lot about the mind/body connection and I also appreciate her approach that western medicine should go hand in hand with holistic/natural healing. That is my personal philosophy in life, but not one shared by many MDs.

I read it mostly in search of suggestions and solutions for dealing with premenopausal issues. And, while it was helpful, for my issues, I much prefer Dr. John Lee's book, What your Doctor may not tell you about Premenopause.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 4/08

* * *

3/5 Stars

Friday, April 4, 2008

These Three Remain: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman...Review

About the book:
One of the most beloved romantic heroes in all of literature, Fitzwilliam Darcy remains an enigma even to Jane Austen's most devoted fans. No longer. With this concluding volume in the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy, novelist and Austen aficionada Pamela Aidan at last gives readers the man in full.

These Three Remain follows a humbled Darcy on the journey of self-discovery, after Elizabeth Bennet's rejection of his marriage proposal, in which he endeavors to grow into the kind of gentleman he desires to become. Happily, a chance meeting with Elizabeth during a tour of his estate in Derbyshire offers Darcy a new opportunity to press his suit, but his newfound strengths are put to the test by an old nemesis, George Wickham.

Vividly capturing the colorful historical and political milieu of the Regency era, Aidan writes in a style evocative of her literary progenitor, but with a wit and humor very much her own. While staying faithful to the people and events in Austen's original, she adds her own fascinating cast of characters, weaving a rich tapestry out of Darcy's past and present that will beguile his admirers anew.

Loved, loved, loved it! I now want to rewatch the best Pride and Prejudice (A&E with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle) and, more importantly, I want to reread Pride and Prejudice. Until now, I haven't yet found a sequel or rewrite of Pride and Prejudice that was worth my time. Some are better than others and some are just plain awful. This trilogy is fantastic.

These Three Remain is the third installment of the story of Mr. Darcy. An Assembly Such as This and Duty and Desire are the first two. The third begins with Darcy and Fitzwilliam visiting their Aunt Catherine at Rosings, and ends just as the original novel ends...with a double wedding. Pamela Aidan has captured the essence of Darcy. Completely. I love his introspection and how he comes to terms with his love for Elizabeth and proposes with every expectation that she will accept. When she doesn't, he is stunned and hurt. But, then his transformation begins and we see how becomes the gentleman he desires to become: one who is not only worthy of Elizabeth, but also of the name, Darcy.

When they meet again at Pemberley, it's just as delightful here as it is in the original novel. And just as Lady Catherine accosts Elizabeth about her alleged engagement to Darcy, she also accosts Darcy. What follows is a fabulous scene with Darcy making it well known to his aunt that she has utterly and completely overstepped her bounds. Beautifully done. And, as we see to what expense, both personal and financial, that Darcy goes to in his efforts to find Wickham and Lydia, we see that he truly has become a true gentleman.

Aidan writes her own story, she doesn't endeavor to become Jane Austen. I think that is what makes this retelling so refreshing. She is not trying to rewrite the beauty that is Pride and Prejudice like so many before her have unsuccessfully attempted to do. She has taken something and simply added a new dimension and perspective that is compelling as well as entertaining.

Thanks to half.com for having a copy I could purchase.  You can find your own copy here.

Read 4/08

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Quirky Kids...Review

About the book:
The toddler whose tantrums scare all the other kids on the playground . . . The three-year-old who ignores all his toys but seems passionately attached to the vacuum cleaner . . . The fourth-grade girl who never gets invited to a birthday party because classmates think she’s “weird” . . . The geek who is terrific at math, but is failing every other subject. Quirky children are different from other kids in ways that they–and their parents and teachers–have a hard time understanding or explaining. Straddling the line between eccentric and developmentally impaired, quirky children present challenges that standard parenting books fail to address. Now, in Quirky Kids, nationally known writer/pediatrician Perri Klass and her colleague Eileen Costello, a seasoned pediatrician with a special interest in child development, finally provide the expert guidance and in-depth research that families with quirky children so desperately need.

A generation ago, such children were called odd ducks or worse. But nowadays, they are often assigned medical, psychiatric, or neurological diagnoses. The diagnoses often overlap or shift, but the labels can be frightening. Klass and Costello illuminate the confusing list of terms applied to quirky children these days–nonverbal learning disability, sensory integration disorder, obsessive-compulsive behavior, autistic spectrum disorder, pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger’s syndrome–and explain how to assess what exactly each diagnosis means and how to use it to help a child most effectively.

Quirky Kids takes you through the stages of a child’s life, helping to smooth the wayat home, at school, even on the playground. How do you make it through mealtime, when emotions often erupt? How do you help the child’s siblings understand what’s going on? Is it better to “mainstream” the child or seek a special education program? How can you make a school more welcoming and flexible for a quirky child? How do you help your child deal with social exclusion, name-calling, and bullying?

Choosing the right therapy for quirky children is especially difficult, because their problems fall outside traditional medical categories. Coping strategies might include martial arts or horseback riding, or speech and occupational therapies. Klass and Costello cover all the options, as well as offer a thorough consideration of the available medications, how they work, and whether medication is the best choice for your child.

Drs. Klass and Costello firmly believe that the ideal way to help our quirky kids is to understand and embrace the qualities that make them exceptionally interesting and lovable. Written with upbeat clarity and informed insight, their book is a comprehensive guide to loving, living with, and enjoying these wonderful if challenging children.

A great resource, especially if you have a child who is just different. Some kids and people just have issues that seem quirky, and may or may not be serious, so this is a great starting point in your research.

Good overviews of different disorders and issues. The authors explain terms, discuss possible therapy options, coping strategies, and even available medications. I particularly like the section about dealing with teachers.

If you deal with quirky issues in your family, any book that gives coping mechanisms and tools for helping your child is a great addition to a library. This one is no exception.

I read my own personal copy, but you can purchase your own copy here.

Last referenced 2006?

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Behind the Smile: My Journey Out of Postpartum Depression: Review

About the book:
While the famous Osmond smile beamed for the camera, no one, not even Marie, fully realized the emptiness that loomed behind the smile. Marie is not alone; more than one out of ten new mothers experiences post-partum depression (PPD) after childbirth. The mother of seven, Marie became increasingly depressed after the birth of her youngest child. One night, she got in her car, leaving her family and husband, and drove north-with no intention of returning until she felt she had resolved this crisis. After she went public with her own experiences with PPD on Oprah and Larry King Live, the response was overwhelming. Now, Marie shares the fear and darkness of the depression she overcame, and with the doctor who helped her through her ordeal, offers the methods she learned for treating PPD.

I didn't struggle with Postpartum Depression after either of my pregnancies, but I still found that I could relate to Marie's story. So often women struggle with keeping it all together and we try and do it ourselves. And, unfortunately for Marie, she was raised with the ideas of "grin and bear it" and "the show must go on at the expense of yourself". Whether you struggle with diagnosed depression or not, that attitude is not healthy. There is nothing wrong with talking about our fears and issues and getting help if necessary.

I appreciated how she talked about the importance of taking care of yourself, and her interest in nutrition/natural healing as well as allopathic.

An insightful book, and definitely useful for women of child-bearing years.

I read my own personal copy, but you can purchase your own copy here.

Last read?

* * * *
4/5 Stars

I am a Mother...Review

About the book:
How do we get women to stop saying, "I'm just a mother"? Or, "I used to be such and such, but now I'm just a mother"? When Jane Clayson Johnson, former network news correspondent and co-host of The Early Show attended a gathering of nearly fifty LDS couples, she was shocked to hear the women in the group describe themselves as "just a mother." She had not expected Latter-day Saint women to have the same undervalued view of motherhood as the rest of the world. Jane's fascinating personal story and unique insights will inspire women to raise their awareness and perception of this important--and often difficult--role.

Jane Clayson Johnson has written a beautiful book whose sole purpose is to show you that motherhood is a wonderful thing and not something to be ashamed about. Having been a career woman/working mother, I can understand how she felt when people criticized her for choosing to stay at home with her children. I was blessed to not run into that sentiment very often, but it is real, nevertheless.

Jane share personal anecdotes and vignettes about her life and how she had always planned for marriage and family, but when that plan didn't go as she hoped, she found her career. Once successful, marriage and family finally came to her and it was then that she chose to leave her career to be a full-time wife and mother.

At once insightful and engaging, this little book is delightful. It's easy to read, but you'll finish it feeling uplifted and inspired. I'd love to see her write a book when her children are teenagers!

I read my own personal copy, but you can purchase your own copy here.

Last read 2007

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

The Out-of-Sync Child...Review

About the book:
Difficult. Picky. Oversensitive. Clumsy. Unpredictable. Inattentive. Children who have been labeled with words such as these may actually be suffering from the often misdiagnosed Sensory Integration Disorder. This break-through guide, written by an expert in the field, explains how SI Dysfunction can be confused with ADD, learning disabilities, and other problems. The author helps parents recognize the problem and offers a drug-free treatment approach.

A fabulous book. The Occupational Therapist who evaluated our son recommended this book. We went to the bookstore, read the back of it and said, "Wow, that's J." This book was essential in our Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) journey.

There is so much information here that is easy to understand and easily accessed. The explanations are good. There are suggestions and ideas on how to understand and help your child cope with the different sensory issues he might have. Understanding your child and finding resources and tools to help him is essential and this book is terrific for that. It's a book you refer to again and again.

An all around great resource for your personal library, especially if you have a child in the SPD spectrum.

I read my own personal copy, but you can purchase your own copy here.

Last read 2007

* * * *
4/5 Stars

The Nursing Mother's Companion...Review

About the book:
Breastfeeding may be natural, but it is not always instinctive. The 20th Anniversary Edition of this classic guide to breastfeeding, beloved by a generation of women, has been completely revised and updated to provide even more practical, reassuring advice and support for today's expectant and nursing mothers. Easy-reference survival guides help identify and resolve problems at each stage. An appendix on drug safety is a unique feature among breastfeeding books.

A terrific reference guide. Breastfeeding, while natural, isn't always easy for every single new mother. I couldn't start breastfeeding my first son until he was 3 weeks old, due to his being in the NICU for open-heart surgery. I pumped for three weeks and the nurses and I gave him bottles. We started breastfeeding AFTER he came home from the hospital and I'm convinced we were so successful at breastfeeding so late after birth because of my lactation consultant and this book.

Definitely a bit more on the medical side of things and not a book you just sit down and read cover to cover, but a terrific reference book. I didn't use it much with my second son, but it was great to refer to when I got mastitis.

I read my own personal copy, but you can purchase your own copy here.

Last referenced 2001

* * * *
4/5 Stars