Friday, June 26, 2015

Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris

This book was a fun escape for me.  I found it when I was looking for Holy Fools by Joanne Harris, which had been recommended earlier...I'm not sure by whom.  When I read the review of Blackberry Wine, I realized it would be very much to my liking so I got it instead of Holy Fools, which I'm sure is also good.  I just was in the mood for what this particular book seemed to have to offer.

Joanne Harris also wrote Chocolat, which I have not read, but I have seen the movie.  There is a mystical element to Chocolat that is also in Blackberry Wine.  It is about a young man who is shuffled off to stay at his grandparents' home because his parents (not very loving & attentive to their son even in the best of times) are getting a divorce.  The grandparents are also somewhat uninvolved in the needs of a young boy, and are happy for him to take off on his bicycle most of the day and go exploring.  It's the 70s after all, and kids pretty much played outdoors till all hours.  After the initial stay, he returns each summer as well.  The boy, Jay, comes upon an old man who is working in his garden, and they slowly strike up a friendship.  As time passes, the two of them become important to one another, the old man, Joe becoming the needed father and grandfather to Jay that his own blood relatives are not.  With superstition and skill Joe not only grows fruits and vegetables, he makes preserves and wines and gifts them to his neighbors.  He has thousands of carefully collected seeds, all labelled.  He weaves stories about his travels across the world collecting the seeds.  He shows Jay the importance of and the beauty of nurturing life, and he weaves his magic around it all.  However, the homes in the little area near the town dump and the railroad tracks where Joe lives is scheduled to be destroyed for development.  Things are beginning to change.  And then one day, Joe is gone.  The abandonment is something Jay feels very deeply.  When he grows up, he writes a novel called Jackapple Joe, which is loosely about his old friend. The book is a best seller, but Jay is never able to write anything of any substance after that one book.  There are unresolved issues that lead him back to the area where he met Joe, and eventually causes him to buy a French chateau in the wine country.  He buys the property and goes to it, on impulse, though he isn't sure why.  The story that develops from his move to the French chateau is one filled with resolution of his deep-seated issues, and the magic of discovery.  It is a delightful tale, with a healthy touch of mysticism and fantasy...considered by some a modern fairytale for grown-ups.  The book reminded me a little also of Under the Tuscan Sun, as well as the movie Chocolat.  I really enjoyed it. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Secret Daughter by shilpi somaya gowda


Somer's life is everything she imagined it to be---

She's newly married and has started her career

as a doctor in San Francisco..She discovers that

she will never be able to have any children.

That same year in India, a mother makes the

a heartbreaking choice to save her newborn

 daughter's life by giving her away. It is

a decision that will haunt Kavita for the rest

of her life and causes of ripple effect that

travels across the world and back

Asha, adopted out of a Mumbai orphanage

binds the destinies of these two women. In this

book these two families are invisibly connected

until Asha's journey of self discovery leads her

back to India.

This book was a very touching and emotional read.

I could not put it down. 

Happy Reading,





Monday, June 22, 2015

"China Dolls" by Lisa See

I have read several of Lisa See's books over the years and this one caught my eye at the library on its display shelf.  Published in 2014, it must be her most recent.  The story is set primarily in San Francisco just before and during World War II.  The lives of three American Oriental young women are intertwined beginning when Grace Lee runs away from home in Ohio to make a new life for herself.  She soon meets up with Helen Fong who has grown up in a traditional Chinese household.  Helen too is looking for an escape of sorts to the strictures of her home life though she never totally makes the break.  The third in the trio is Ruby Tom who brings both Grace and Helen under her sway very quickly.

The life the three live is in show business - dancers on stage at an Oriental nightclub catering to Occidentals. It's not an easy living considering its the Depression but the friendship grows between the three until Pearl Harbor is bombed and we learn something about Ruby.

Lisa See uses first person throughout but switches the story teller between the three.  I found it difficult at first to track who was telling the story but slowly warmed to it.

It's a friendship story, a love story, and a picture of life of which I was unaware.  If you've read others of her books, you'll like this one too.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Time to Read

Is it hot where you are?
                             Too hot to be outside? 

Looks like it is about time to curl up with a good book. Be sure the air conditioning is running and just enjoy!!

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Wright Brothers

Who has not heard of Orville and Wilbur Wright and the exciting very short flight on the sandy mounds of Kitty Hawk in North Carolina? It was the beginning of man's flight through the skies.

I am sure had not the Wright Brothers been successful in their attempts, some other ingenious soul would have figured it all out but that is not what happened.

The book club, to which I belong, chose "The Wright Brothers" by David McCullough as this month's read. I just finished it and I was captivated. I highly recommend this book. The story is a part of our history and continues on in the way we travel for pleasure and to fight wars.

The book is well written as you might expect coming from David McCullough. It is well researched and holds a large number of wonderful photographs of both the Wright family and of their trials and tribulations of their invention.


Orville and Wilbur (Wilbur was the eldest) were very quiet, unassuming young men who ran a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio. But, they had a dream, a dream of flying through the air like the birds. Both were high school graduates with no formal training to suggest that they had special abilities except for this strong desire. They were dogged in their pursuit of that desire. They were honest, steadfast and devoted to the cause.

America did not embrace these young men as they grew more and more adept at getting off the ground. So, Wilbur went to France where soon great crowds gathered to watch every time his machine took off and gained altitude, circled the field, sometimes crashed. They cheered and went mad with delight. Soon the Wright Brothers were famous in Europe. Finally the U. S. caught on and welcomed them home with the largest celebration Dayton had ever seen.

The role that their father played in their lives, as well as that of their sister, Katherine was interesting to learn. The struggles to be recognized as great inventors, to be accepted as such, were great. So much of what was in that book I had never heard so it was an education to me as well as an enjoyable read. The book tells of the people who were huge supporters and of those who tried to discredit them.

I've been to Kitty Hawk to the Wright Brothers Museum but it's been years. I've eaten many times at the Black Pelican Restaurant near the Museum where one or maybe both ran to send a wire after that first successful flight. It was a small building then, I think a life saving station. It had the only wire anywhere around so that he could send a telegram to alert the world that yes, Wilbur had actually flown, a few feet, but flown nevertheless. Oh what a feel of accomplishment that must have been.

I hope you will add this to your reading list. I don't think you will be sorry.

Friday, June 5, 2015


OK, people!  Are we not reading anything, or are we just not "into" this blog?  Looks like in the past couple of months, Marcia, Mom & me are the only people posting books....and though I received an enormous amount of comments on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, there haven't been all that many comments on most of the other posts.  Let's enjoy this book club!  You can read what you want and say what you want when you pressure!  Just fun!

A recent read for me was Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.  Many may have seen the movie, which was awesome!  But the book goes into so much greater detail about the life of this incredible man and how he survived some of the most horrible aspects of being a POW in WWII.  I  loved this book, and highly recommend it to anyone who loves an inspiring story; loves to learn about this country's heroes; or just enjoys history and biography. But, I would recommend that everyone read it for the connection it will give you to an amazing man...and other amazing men during this time, and their families.  It may be a little more work than reading some of the escapist fare we all love (yes, me'll see in my next review! :-) )  but it's definitely worth it!

Laura Hillenbrand also wrote Seabiscuit which I am looking forward to reading.  She has a very readable writing style, and is passionate about the subjects she chooses to write.