Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Paper Garden: Review and Giveaway

Nearly everyone has heard of Grandma Moses, a popular American folk artist who began painting in her late 70s and enjoyed a long and lucrative career.  But have you ever heard of Mary Delany before?  I had not.  Mary Delany (1700 - 1788)  began her special art, constructing intricate paper collages or mosaicks* of flowers at the age of 72.  Although her work did seem a bit familiar to me when I first viewed it in the book, and I did wonder where I'd seen it before, I didn't know anything about this artist.

"How can people say we grow indifferent as we grow old?  It is just the reverse . . . "
~Mary Delany to her sister Anne Dewes, Dublin, 1750

The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life's Work at 72 by Molly Peacock is an impressionistic portrait of a woman who was truly ahead of her time. Married at the age of 17 to a much older man, Mary Delany (nee Granville) became a widow at a young age and remained unmarried for many years, in spite of having several suitors, and in spite of the times, in which women were expected to marry.  She did not marry again until she was forty-three, and this time, she married because she was seeking a true companion, and she found one, in Patrick Delany, who had a beautiful garden.

Poet and author Molly Peacock traces Mary Delany's late-blooming (pun intended) career as an artist in part to her second husband's garden, where she observed the forms of flowers, and refined her sense of aesthetics.  Mary Delany developed great powers of observation, and an unwillingness to compromise in important matters, such as marriage.  Although I don't see flowers or pictures of flowers as particularly sexual, the author draws some connections in The Paper Garden.  (When I see flowers, I see beauty and color and grace; I don't see their forms as having much to do with sex or genitalia, although a garden could be a lovely, secluded spot for love-making.)  However, she presents her ideas well throughout the book, and I truly enjoyed it.  I was cast back in time to England in the 1700s, and saw this artist as her life unfolded, as she matured and bloomed and began her collage work (after Patrick's death), with incredible precision, delicacy, and tenacity, which could only have been achieved with a sharp eye, nimble fingers, and the type of incandescent mind Virginia Woolf spoke of (a mind unfettered by constraining conventions, and instead lit by an unwavering inner light).  If I'm fortunate enough to have a long life, I hope to possess the ability to begin creative work late in life, and to create well into my old age.

I've included both covers for The Paper Garden not because I couldn't decide which one to use in this review, but because I wanted to showcase two examples of Mary Delany's exquisite paper flower collages, featured on the covers.  Do they seem familiar to you, too?  These delicate yet bold pictures of flowers were made by cutting tissue paper into shapes and then gluing them onto black paper, where they really stand out.  They're remarkable in their finery, detail, and botanical accuracy.  Mary Delany took great care to make sure that each of her flowers were correct, in number of stamens and petals.  During her life, she became well-known, and many donors sent her flowers to cut. Today, her flower mosaicks can be seen at the British Museum, and occasionally in special exhibitions elsewhere around the world.

I languished over both the narrative and pictures of her exquisite work in this book. (I'm certain this book would be nothing short of spectacular in hard cover, a beautiful "coffee table" book to linger with.)  The author attempts to reveal what it takes to begin a career in art at an advanced age, or at least provides the background of Mary Delany, often called "Mrs D." in the book.  Molly Peacock added bits of her own life into the book, so it forms a collage of thoughts, recollections, and ideas, centering around a bounty of biographical information about the artist. 


I do think that Mary Delany's ability to create this art (which stemmed from decoupage, but which was a new art), especially at an advanced age (with diminishing eyesight and limited light), in the era she lived, is nothing short of remarkable, and also inspiring.  After her second husband died, she began working on these collages, and created nearly 1000 of them. She was quite prolific, becoming more proficient as time went on.  The author shows that much in Mary's life contributed to the creation of these flower mosaicks: her awful first marriage, her time to herself after she became a widow, her second, happy marriage (which featured a lovely garden), as well as her bright personality and need to connect with others (she was an avid letter writer, and had many friends).  The author also emphasizes that the creative life is of paramount importance, and an expression of our own innate joy. 

Wonderful news! Originally published in Canada in 2010, Bloomsbury is celebrating the 2012 release of the paperback version of this book by offering a copy of The Paper Garden as a giveaway (U.S./Canada only) to a lucky reader.

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment. 
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower, or that you subscribe in Google Reader.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.

Enter by 5PM PDT on Monday, June 4.  One lucky winner will be randomly selected and announced on Tuesday, June 5.  Good luck!


Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for sending me this book.  For more reviews please visit the other stops on TLC's The Paper Garden book blog tour.







* I've adopted the spelling that's used in the book, which fits as a more artful version.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Long and Winding Road

"This has been a journey traversed on never-before-traveled roads with forks and dead ends and multiple switch-backs for all of us."
~Nancy Robinson, A Long and Winding Road

A Long and Winding Road: A family's intimate journey to the other side of breast cancer by Nancy J. Robinson is the touching and true story of a beautiful, vibrant woman who had a feeling that  something was not quite right.  In October of 2005, Nancy was diagnosed with breast cancer, at the age of 49.

First of all, I should mention right away that Nancy is my friend.  I met her many years ago, when our children were in preschool together.  At that time, I learned that she was a muralist (and I've learned more recently that she also writes for the newspaper).  Her youngest son, Jordan, is about a year older than my daughter, Angela, and he helped her feel more comfortable during her first months at preschool, away from me.  Over the years, I've watched her boys, Matthew and Jordan, grow into handsome, caring, and talented musicians and young men.


At the time Nancy was diagnosed, I did not know her that well.  I'd see her every so often, at school mostly, when we'd pick up our kids, and although I knew she'd been diagnosed with breast cancer, I didn't really know what she was going through. This book filled in many of the details for me.  A Long and Winding Road, published in 2012, is a remarkably honest and detailed account of her experience with breast cancer; much of it's written in the present tense, like a diary or personal journal. With an easy-to-read format and lucid prose, the book includes photos of friends (some of them mutual) and of her supportive and loving family, as well as drawings and notes by her children, all of which enhance the book.  While reading, I felt a kinship with Nancy as I learned about her deep love for music, her family, and life.  Nancy doesn't sugar-coat her experience--she's frustrated and anxious about some things, such as challenges with her health insurance regarding her care--but although she candidly expresses her feelings, she never presents her story in a whiny or "poor little me" manner.  Instead, she's strong and maintains her sense of humor and positive outlook throughout her ordeal, and consequently the book is inspiring and uplifting.  Her appreciation for life is apparent throughout the book, and she's thankful for all that she has, especially her children, and husband, Randy, a psychologist who contributes a few pages near the end of the book about Nancy's illness.  While this is not a self-help book, Nancy does offer some practical advice about how to deal with many aspects of cancer, and includes a section called "Things I wish I knew about chemo before my first treatment".  At the same time, she acknowledges that each case is individual and should be treated as such.

"I am stronger than cancer."
~Nancy J. Robinson, A Long and Winding Road

Nancy's story is one of strength and survival.  I never expected to say this, but I have many good friends and family members who've had (or have) various cancers.  My lovely friend from college, Eriko, is also a breast cancer survivor.  Last year, my husband, Randy, was treated for prostate cancer at a young age (a very helpful book for those faced with this disease is Dr. Patrick Walsh's Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer).  And I lost my wonderful mother to cancer less than a year ago. Unfortunately, cancer seems to be quite prevalent these days, although I suppose the silver lining is that many cancers are curable or at least treatable, if caught early enough.

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Nancy shared some pictures from her recent book-signing party, which I was unable to attend. (Knowing about my probable conflict with Nancy's book launching in advance, I bought a copy of A Long and Winding Road which she signed for me a few days before the party.)



You can read the first chapter of A Long and Winding Road on Nancy's website.
Thanks for visiting!  As always, your comments are welcomed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Really Random Tuesday #48: An Updated Button and a Guest Review

Happy Tuesday!  This is a very short really Random Tuesday post, and you'll understand why in a few moments.

Special thanks to Veens from Giving Reading a Chance for updating my Really Random Tuesday button. A few months ago, I switched to a custom domain name, and the URL on the button needed to be changed.  Veens also gets the credit for designing this fun button for me a while ago.  She's very talented!


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Please stop by my brief review of Losing Elizabeth by Tanya J. Peterson at Lost in Fiction. Your comments there (and here) are greatly appreciated!  Lost in Fiction, an international portal for fiction fans, is devoting the month of May to young adult fiction.  I felt honored when I was asked to write a guest review for this wonderful site.

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Appearing on random Tuesdays, Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of. If you're inspired by this idea, feel free to copy the button and use it on your own blog. Please leave a link in the comments if you’re participating and I'll add it to this post.  For another Really Random Tuesday post, visit Veens' blog, Giving Reading a Chance. Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mailbox Monday: A Lucky Trio


Uno, dos, tres.  Last week, I received a trio of books in the mail, won on various blogs that host numerous book giveaways.  Each of these book blogs is quite popular and well-known, maybe even famous, I'm not sure.  I won The First Husband by Laura Dave from Kathy's blog, BermudaOnion's Weblog, The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O'Melveny from Leslie's blog, Under My Apple Tree, and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, a World Book Night win from Vivienne's blog, Serendipity Reviews.

The back cover of I Capture the Castle

I love winning books, and although it may take me a while to read them, due to gargantuan to-be-read stacks, I trust that I will, eventually. 

Mailbox Monday is hosted for the month of May by Martha's Bookshelf.  What new books have you added to your shelves or stacks recently?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Really Random Tuesday #47: A Book Winner, Tuesday Titles, and Memes




Please help me to congratulate DarcyO, the randomly chosen winner of The Iguana Tree by Michel Stone, a novel about a young family who emigrates from Mexico to America equipped only with the dream of a more prosperous life.  If you didn't win this beautifully written novel, please don't despair, because I have other terrific book giveaways on the right side of my blog, so be sure to scroll down and take a look (if you're on a mobile device, you'll need to switch to the web version to see them).





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While many people seem to hate Monday, at least it's a day that's mentioned frequently, even if it's in a begrudging manner.  Wednesday, also called "Hump Day",  is mid-week,  so it's referred to with relief, while Thursday, because of its proximity to Friday, is associated with that favored day.  Friday and Saturday garner a lot of happy attention, and Sunday is seen as a day to relax.  But what about Tuesday?  Tuesday is not exactly the most popular day of the week.  Poor Tuesday!  I thought maybe I could "help" Tuesday by finding some books with Tuesday in the title.  The first one I thought of was Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom, my introduction to this author.  A quick Google search helped me to find other books with Tuesday in the title:

No Tildes on Tuesday by Dr. Cherrye S. Vasquez, a book for children

Tuesday by David Weisner, a picture book for children

Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him by Bret Witter

What other books have Tuesday in the title? 

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MEMES
 
Recently I updated my Memes page, which is a large collection of book-related memes. If you're interested in learning more about these memes, or even memes in general, please take a look.  Also, if you have a meme that is not included in my list, let me know.  I would be happy to add it to my page,  if it's suitable.

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Appearing on random Tuesdays, Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of.  Often, I announce the winners of my book giveaways in this Tuesday meme. If you're inspired by this idea, feel free to copy the button and use it on your own blog.   Please leave a link in the comments if you’re participating and I'll add it to this post.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Whole Latte Life

This question is for the ladies: what would you do if your best friend deserted you during your birthday weekend getaway?

Whole Latte Life by writer Joanne DeMaio is the story of two Connecticut women who have been best friends for many years, Rachel DeMartino and Sara Beth Riley.  They plan on celebrating their fortieth birthdays together, with a long weekend in Manhattan at the Plaza Hotel, away from their families. Much to Rachel's surprise, while they are at a restaurant in NYC, Sara Beth suddenly disappears, and Rachel is left at the table by herself.  Rachel gets a note from the waiter from Sara Beth, who asks her not to mention this disappearance to her husband, Tom, telling her only that she needs some time by herself to "sort things out".  In spite of the note, Rachel is upset and worried about her friend, and asks for help from a mounted policeman in the city,  Michael Micelli, a divorced father with a daughter, Summer.  In Sara Beth's absence, Rachel and Michael begin to spend time together.

In the book, both women are suffering from the loss of a loved one (Sara Beth's loss is more recent).  Rachel lost her husband, Carl, to a heart attack, and Sara Beth's mother has died unexpectedly of an aneurysm. They are trying to cope, and neither wants to also lose the friendship that has sustained them for so many years, which seems to have also vanished.  Sara Beth, who has three children, copes with her mother's death by writing email messages to her, even though she knows that her mother can't respond to them, and also through the dream that she and her mother shared, to open a business selling antiques (in fact, the antiques become an obsession to Sara Beth).  Rachel has had more time to recover from her husband's death, and tries to be strong for the sake of her daughter, Ashley, who's away at college.

Whole Latte Life is beautifully written; the artistic writing frames the story, which is about experiencing life to the fullest.  There are many lovely passages throughout the novel, such as this one:

Rachel loves the way it happens every year, as summer nears.  The nurseries overflow with flats of marigolds and snapdragons, dahlias and zinnias.  Black pots of scarlet geraniums sit on front stoops.  Purple and white petunias grow with abandon from hanging pots hooked onto country lamposts.  And bright yellow marigolds fringe vegetable gardens.  Walking through Addison is like looking through a kaleidoscope of flowers.
~Whole Latte Life, Joanne DeMaio

Joanne DeMaio paints vivid, descriptive scenes with her words. Written in the third person in the present tense, we see into the hearts and minds of the characters, particularly Rachel and Sara Beth, the main characters (although the blurb on the back cover focuses on Sara Beth, I think this is Rachel's book, too).  The book resonated with me on many levels; I understood Sara Beth's devastation at losing her mother, and her yearning for continued connection with her.  Having lost my own mother less than a year ago, I still feel that sense of loss, and although it helps to talk about my mother with my sisters and a handful of close friends, at times I feel very much alone with my sadness and grief.  On a brighter note, the book also encourages us to pursue our passions, whether that means gathering and refinishing antiques or finding that perfect cottage on the beach--bring your dreams to life!  Whole Latte Life also centers on the importance of connection to others, to friends and family.  Meet them for coffee,  savor the beauty of the seashore together, get out and enjoy life, this whole latte life. (While I was reading this novel, I took the book's cover to heart, and savored countless cups of coffee, some "latte-style".)

I enjoyed so many things about this novel: the well-drawn characters, the east coast setting (NY, the beach, Connecticut), the references to coffee, the antiques (symbolically, how we can assimilate the past into the future), the romance, the prevailing sense of optimism, and the underlying belief that connections with others have intrinsic value, and deserve to be honored and nurtured.

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After reading Whole Latte Life, I had a few questions for the author, which she graciously answered by email.

In your book, which focuses on connections, Sara Beth became interested in antiques through her mother, who's deceased. They represent a strong connection to her mother, as they had shopped for antiques together, and planned to open a shop together when Sara Beth turned forty.  Describe how you became interested in antiques.

JD: Like writing, antiques are another form of storytelling.  There’s such life in each piece, we can see evidence of it and then visualize someone’s days.  I mention in Whole Latte Life antique desktops stained with ink, leading Sara Beth to wonder who wrote there and if they were happy.  Did they record their farm life in a journal, or pen letters to a long-lost love?  Though I’m personally not an antiques collector, I did find them to be a revealing aspect of my character’s journey.


Why do you think antiques seem to be so popular today? Do they represent something missing in today's world?

JD: Life can be so fast-paced and fast-changing, especially with the technological advances we see every day.  Antiques offer us a way to slow down, to quietly time travel not online, but in reality.  It’s been said that technology keeps us “connected.”  As we linger with antiques, they connect us in a different way.  The furniture is real and connects us with people like us, daughters and wives and friends and mothers, through the life they left behind.


Would you share a recipe for the perfect latte?

JD: I’d love to.  This recipe is my favorite.  First, find a few close friends, daughters, or mom.  Mix together in a cozy coffee shop with paned windows looking out on a sunny day.  Add a dash of laughter, heaps of talk, and simmer over refills.  What better way to enjoy your latte!

Sounds wonderful!  


I also asked Joanne to share a photo of her workspace.

Point O'Woods beach

JD: Because of the very nature of writing, my workspace often changes. I’ve included a photograph of one of my favorite workspaces, Point O’ Woods beach on the Connecticut shoreline. So much of my storytelling is inspired by this small seaside place that I consider it a necessary “office.” Much of Whole Latte Life’s Anchor Beach is a reflection of this small stretch of sand and sea.

Isn't that gorgeous?!  I certainly wouldn't mind an "office" like this, a beach with mustard-golden sand and an azure ocean.

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Review copy provided by publicist in exchange for my honest review. Your comments are welcomed, as always.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

About A Good Man: Another Conversation with Vanessa Morgan


In December of 2010, I first interviewed Vanessa Morgan, after having read her unnerving novella,  Drowned Sorrow.  I'm thrilled to present another interview with this writer, in which we discuss her latest project. 



1) Welcome back, Vanessa!  Tell us something about your new work, a screenplay called A Good Man, currently in preproduction with Radowski Films.  Although I haven't read it, I did read the description of it, so I know it's about Louis Caron, a "good man", a vegetarian who cares about homeless people, animals, and the future of our planet.  If Louis seems too good to be true, then trust your instincts, because he has a sinister side as well--in fact, he's a vampire.  The story, the screenplay, the film--it  all sounds very exciting to me!

VM:  A Good Man is a dark comedy with a few horror elements.  I could best describe it as American Psycho with a vampire.  Some people have also compared it to the TV-series Dexter.  It's a fun and moving story that turns the vampire myth completely on its head.  It's not the kind of vampire story you've seen before and if you think you know how things will turn out, then think again.

                         Cast Members of A Good Man

Pierre Lekeux as Louis Caron
Flavio Tosti as Vincent














Matthias Pohl as himself




Avalon, Vanessa's cat




2) What is it about vampires?  I want to know why America and Europe are so intrigued by these mythological beings, who have demanded center stage since the publication of Dracula in 1897.  What do you think? 



VM:  Although vampires have always existed in literature and film, that 'thing' about vampires is actually a quite recent phenomenon that started with Twilight. There have never been as many vampire books and movies as there are now.  Modern vampires are handsome and sexy, whereas the vampires in mythology are ugly and evil-looking.  The Ghanan Asasabonsam vampire, for example, has iron teeth and hooks for feet, which they drop from treetops onto unsuspecting victims.  Certain regions in the Balkans believe that pumpkins and watermelons would turn into vampires if they were left out longer than 10 days or not consumed by Christmas.

(True, the Twilight series transformed gruesome vampires into sexy, sparkling beings, made them acceptable aesthetically, then gave them the spotlight.)


3) How did you learn to write a screenplay?  How does this type of writing differ from other forms? Did you take any classes, and/or have any special teachers or mentors?


VM:  It's the same as with learning to write novels.  You always learn more by practicing and listening to what reviewers have to say about your work than by actually reading books about it. I didn't take any classes and didn't have any mentors or teachers either, but I'd love to have one because you evolve more quickly with a good mentor.  That said, writing a screenplay is different than writing a novel in the sense that a screenwriter can't tell what's in the character's mind; everything has to be shown, everything has to be visual.  Structure is also important, because a screenplay (and the movie for that matter) quickly becomes boring if you put too many scenes in it for character development but that doesn't move the story forward at the same time.  In books, you can get away with that, but not in a screenplay.  My experience as a screenwriter has obviously influenced my work as a novelist in that I am more concise and more visual than most other novelists.  I 'explain' a lot through the images and details I portray.  Sometimes it's about two characters talking about ordinary things, but it's actually about something more profound that you can only 'get' once you have read the whole book.  I love putting information into details that seem irrelevant at first.




4) Did the screenplay change a lot during the rewriting process?



VM:  More than you can imagine and not always for the better.  Everyone was quite wild about the first draft I wrote of A Good Man, but although it was fresh and original, it missed some character development and the second half of the story wasn't really going anywhere.  I said I wanted to cut the second half and put the mid-point scene as the second turning point near the end (for those who have read A Good Man, I'm talking about the important Emma scene).  My producer argued though that I should keep the same structure and transform the second part into a revenge story.  I didn't think it was the right thing to do with the characters and the story because it really felt out of character for the people I created, but I tried anyway. Three drafts later, the screenplay had become slow-moving, overly long and not very logical.  Everyone said that the first part of A Good Man was brilliant; it was the second half that focused on the revenge story that had a million problems.  It's true that the first draft had developed nicely; it stayed the same in terms of structure and story, but I added some really interesting character development that added a lot of originality and depth to the story.  But once I came to the mid-point, I had no idea what to do with the story apart from the final two scenes.  I then decided to not listen to my producer anymore and to just follow my intuition with A Good Man.  I went against all advice and cut the second half of the screenplay, put the mid-point near the end and added a few scenes to have a good transition between all the parts.  Just by cutting the second part and changing the structure, I changed A Good Man from the revenge story with lots of murders that my producers wanted into a touching character piece about why we sometimes end up ruining our own lives and that of others without really wanting to.  I sent the new draft to my producer and a day later he wrote to me: "Brilliant structure and story.  Very surprising and very touching."  We were finally ready to move forward with the production.


5) Did you use character traits of people you know for the screenplay?

VM:  I love using real people for my books, but for A Good Man I abused this and so the book is populated for 99% with people I know *looking down with puppy eyes*.  The main character, Louis Caron, was obviously based on Pierre Lekeux, the actor who is going to play the part.  I observed him in real life and in his interactions with women and it really helped me in creating an original vampire character.  I particularly loved the idea of an old vampire who suffers from arthritis and who is so insecure about his wrinkled face that he seduces ugly women as a means to feel better about himself. The hypochondriac vampire Madame Renaud was loosely based on my own mom (sorry mom, I hope you don't read this).


6) Why did you write the screenplay for A Good Man, Un Homme Bien, in French, originally?

VM:  

The Belgian production company Radowski Films asked me to write a screenplay for them about a vampire.  It had to be in French, because they already had some French actors in mind to star in the movie, so I did.


(How many languages do you know, anyway?)

VM:  I speak Dutch, English, French, Spanish and a little bit of German.  I love writing in different languages and chances and I'll most probably write screenplays in Dutch and Spanish as well some time soon.



(Impressive!  Very likely, each language influences your writing in numerous and various ways.)


7) Which actors would you choose if there were to be a Hollywood remake?



VM:  I think Steve Buscemi would be brilliant as Louis Caron, because he is odd and charming at the same time, and he can be funny without losing depth.  For the other characters, I would choose Melissa George as Emma and Jim Sturgess as Vincent.

Superb casting choices, Vanessa!  Steve Buscemi, in particular, is a wonderful, quirky (character) actor.  I'd love to see this film, either the original version (if it becomes available on DVD, please let me know), and/or as an American remake in the future.  It sounds like it would be quite entertaining.  I remember watching a werewolf movie (whose name eludes me, unfortunately) many years ago as a teenager, and being absolutely transfixed.  I think this film would have a similar effect on me.  Thank you for this follow-up interview, Vanessa, and best of luck with A Good Man!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Really Random Tuesday #46: A Book Winner, Cool Text, and a Sweet Frother

And now, the moment we've all been waiting for!  The lucky, randomly chosen winner of Desert Intrigue by Linda Weaver Clarke is Cheryl (who has many blogs).  If you didn't win this time, please check the right side of my blog for other giveaways (if you're on a mobile device, you'll need to switch to the web version to view them).  Please join me and congratulate Cheryl.







I've mentioned Cool Text before, but as I've just used it to design the graphic above,  I thought it deserved a fresh "shout out".  This graphics generator, which has been recently updated, allows you to create your own fabulous, free graphics for your blog or website.  I've designed various graphics for my blog using it.


I keep a small logo on my blog as a "thank you", and as a quick way to get to the site.  It's super easy to use, and gives you countless design choices.

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I hope this doesn't sound too "adsy".  While I try to sell a few books through my Amazon links, I try not to play the part of the pushy salesperson.  However, I'm absolutely thrilled with my new IKEA Produkt Milk Frother, which is made by IKEA but sold on Amazon (at a real steal of a price, only 99¢ plus $4.99 shipping).  Although it was kind of tricky to get the batteries into the small compartment, it works really well, especially compared to my old frother, which was broken but worked if I held it together in a very awkward fashion.  I'm loving my new little appliance, using it to froth milk to pour on top of my hot coffee, giving it some oomph and a shot of calcium.  This is my own version of a "latte", which is, according to Wikipedia, from the Italian caffè latte or caffellatte, a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk or soy milk (I want to try to froth soy or even coconut milk). The inspiration for finally getting a new frother was the book Whole Latte Life by Joanne DeMaio, which I'm currently reading (please stay tuned for my upcoming review).  Books sometimes influence me in little ways like this. What about you?

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Appearing on random Tuesdays, Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of.  If you're inspired by this idea, feel free to copy the button and use it on your own blog.  Please leave a link in the comments if you’re participating and I'll add it to this post.  Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mailbox Monday: Why I Blog About Books


Books and more books, delivered to my doorstep, are the main reason I blog about books.  Of course, they arrive carefully packaged, in envelopes and boxes, but often they're left at the front door, greeting me as I return home.  Below are the details about the origin of each book pictured above.

The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock and I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits arrived from the publishers for upcoming TLC book tours.  I won three of these books, A Creed in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller on Kristin's blog, Always With a BookThe Rebel Wife by Taylor M. Polites on Kathy's blog,  BermudaOnion's Weblog, and The Quaker State Affair by Dan Romain on Naida's blog, the bookworm.  Additionally, I just found out that I won another book, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, on Vivienne's blog, Serendipity Reviews (I'm on a roll!).  I ordered  Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult from a used bookseller on Amazon, which I'll read for The Jodi Picoult Project, a reading challenge I created because I wanted to read more novels by this prolific author.  (There's a plethora of links in this paragraph!)


Mailbox Monday is hosted this month by Martha's Bookshelf. What new books have arrived at your home recently?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Quote It Saturday: Garden Bliss

Nature is the master artist, and the garden is an outdoor studio.  Quiet little miracles appear in the spring garden--new leaves, the beginnings of fruit, a burst of flower-color.  Cuttings from other plants, from mint or succulents, start to grow and forge their own identities.


Signs of life on the Japanese maple

Rosemary plants have become bushes

Carrots (from seeds) flourish in a planter box

Mini cherry tomatoes sprout abundantly
 on plants from last spring

A brilliantly-colored geranium

Grapes-to-be!

This mint plant...

...led to this mint plant...

...and this one

A trio of succulents

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1911 edition


 by Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of
The Secret Garden   (and other books)

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.”


"I am writing in the garden. To write as one should of a garden one must write not outside it or merely somewhere near it, but in the garden."


“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”



  

Quote It Saturday is a meme hosted by Freda's Voice.  During the merry month of May, Sheila from Book Journey is hosting a read-a-long for The Secret Garden.

As always, your comments are welcomed. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Really Random Tuesday #45: Winners and a Blogiversary

Welcome to the 45th edition of Really Random Tuesday!  As is often the case in these Tuesday posts, I'll announce my randomly selected giveaway winners here.

Peppermint, Ph.D. is the winner of my GoneReading giveaway.  She has won her choice of a gift valued at $20.  GoneReading offers fantastic items for readers, and this company generously donates 100% of after-tax profits to libraries and reading programs worldwide.


Harvee from Book Dilettante has won The Song Remains the Same by Allison Winn Scotch.  Congratulations to both of my winners!  If you didn't win this time, please scroll down and take a look at the other giveaways listed on the right side of my blog (if you're on a mobile device, you'll have to switch to the web version).

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BLOGIVERSARY
4 years of blogging about books

How do you celebrate a blogiversary?  By blogging about it, of course! It's hard to believe that I started this blog four years ago, but the time has passed quickly.  One of the reasons I host giveaways is to thank those who visit my blog (and my followers get extra chances to win).  Without readers who leave comments, this blog would be a dull monologue. Thank you for your visits and comments!

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Appearing on random Tuesdays, Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of.  If you're inspired by this idea, feel free to copy the button and use it on your own blog.  For another Really Random Tuesday post, visit Vivienne's blog, Serendipity Reviews.  Please leave a link in the comments if you’re participating and I'll add it to this post.  Thanks for reading!

BLOG ARCHIVE










Some of the books reviewed here have been provided
to me free of charge by authors, publishers, and agents,
in exchange for my honest reviews.



I'm honored to be an Amazon Associate.
If you make a purchase from Amazon through
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Many thanks to those who place orders through my site.

SHOP SMART