Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner Review

The Shape of Mercy: A Novel
From Goodreads: Leaving a life of privilege to strike out on her own, Lauren Durough breaks with convention and her family’s expectations by choosing a state college over Stanford and earning her own income over accepting her ample monthly allowance. She takes a part-time job from 83-year-old librarian Abigail Boyles, who asks Lauren to transcribe the journal entries of her ancestor Mercy Hayworth, a victim of the Salem witch trials.

Almost immediately, Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived and died four centuries ago. As the fervor around the witch accusations increases, Mercy becomes trapped in the worldview of the day, unable to fight the overwhelming influence of snap judgments and superstition, and Lauren realizes that the secrets of Mercy’s story extend beyond the pages of her diary, living on in the mysterious, embittered Abigail.

The strength of her affinity with Mercy forces Lauren to take a startling new look at her own life, including her relationships with Abigail, her college roommate, and a young man named Raul. But on the way to the truth, will Lauren find herself playing the helpless defendant or the misguided judge? Can she break free from her own perceptions and see who she really is?

My take:  I loved The Shape of Mercy through to the very end; in fact I couldn't put it down at the last.  As Lauren transcribes the diary of Mercy Hayworth into readable language the character of Mercy comes alive both for Lauren and for the reader.  

Toward the beginning of the book there is a hint of the paranormal that I assumed would be developed in the story.  It wasn't, and I was slightly disappointed.  If the reader knows going in that this angle won't be followed it will be a more comfortable read.  Abigail, Lauren, Mercy and the supporting characters are well-crafted and multi-layered.  Their thought processes, and characterizations of others show growth and deeper understanding as the story progresses.  I admire an author that can show evolution in the characters, and author Susan Meissner earned my esteem.

The Shape of Mercy reminded me of reading a portion of my great, great, great grandmother's diary and finding her come alive in her first person account of her life.  The women, both my grandmother and Mercy are not just sepia-toned images in the context of history, but women whose lives promised hope and heartache, just like any other woman in any other point in history.

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway Review

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & JuneThe Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Three sisters, 13 months apart, move to a new city, attend a new school, brand new environment. The one constant is they have each other and their mom. Parents divorced four months ago, there was the "Tequila Incident" involving May and then the move. They are suddenly made aware of their weird abilities. April gets flashes of the future, May becomes invisible, and April can read minds.

The best part about this book is the dialog, both spoken and in their heads. It is HILARIOUS. Although they are sisters, Robin Benway created each character to be completely unique. She also infused humor into every page. Just made me laugh out loud.

There's a similarity to each character's power and their personality. April is the over-controlling sister who hovers over everybody trying to ward off danger. May is the withdrawer, tired of high school and wears black to disappear. June is the girl always seeking social acceptance and worried about what her peers think of her. Love interests develop, sexual tension is hilarious. Would make a fun Disney movie with a couple of edits. Mostly May's mouth.

Language - moderate
Sex - mild
Drug use - moderate drinking at parties
Overall message - Excellent.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Raising by Laura Kasischke Review

The RaisingThe Raising by Laura Kasischke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The story starts out really strong. There's an accident. A girl has been thrown out of the car on a semi-rural road. A professor at the college saw it from a distance and is the first person on the scene. What she saw happen and what the newspapers and college report, however, are very different. The next chapter is a few months later when everybody arrives back on campus after summer break. The book follows key characters and explores the way the accident impacted their lives (or deaths).

Nicole Werner: She was the girl thrown from the car. She died. Or did she? She was a chaste virgin who was sweet, innocent, and loved her boyfriend, Craig. Or not. Other accounts indicate she was a slutty sorority girl who manipulated men and boys with her body. With Craig, she was what he wanted her to be.

Craig: Stuck up rich kid. Falls in love with Nicole, driver of the crashed car. Doesn't remember much of anything from the crash or shortly thereafter. What really happened to him? Was he duped? If so, how?

Perry: Craig's roommate who grew up with Nicole. He gathers information regarding the circumstances of Nicole's death and discovers that things may not be what they seem.

Shelley: The woman who came to the scene of the crash first. Professor of Art, respected, frustrated with how the newspaper and authorities reported and handled the crash.

Mira: Professor of Anthropology, mother of twins, married to Mr. Bipolar. Takes interest in Perry's thesis that the accident is not what it seemed.

What a fascinating premise! There are sightings of Nicole. Is she really dead? Is she a ghost? What really happened at the scene of the crash? Why can't Craig remember anything? Who is Nicole Werner? Clearly, something is going on at this sorority house. One of the residents, Josie, is a character that is constantly showing up and making her presence known. She is manipulative and completely without a moral compass. In fact, the girls in the sorority house lack a moral compass.

The writing is good. The story is compelling but, when push comes to shove, I can't recommend this book. It is raunchy. Not just a sex scene here or there but details that are forever burned in my head. Lesbian sex is spelled out in detail. It seems that on this campus, sex is paramount to all the students and faculty. There is a lot of pushing the boundaries with faculty and students, woman on woman, girl with anybody, boy with anybody. The story would be just as clear without all the detail.

Speaking of detail, the book takes off in a number of side stories that I found interesting but not relevant. Mira is having marital problems. Her husband is an unhappy househusband. Their twins have their own language. Perry got dumped by his high school girlfriend and now her husband is a vegetable because of an incident in Iraq. Craig's parents are divorced. All these strands lead off from the main story and don't seem to go anyplace.

My biggest complaint is that the ending was not satisfying. I spent over 400 pages glimpsing each character and formulating more questions about them. I wanted closure to not only the story but for each character. I found out if Mira's marriage survived and how Craig is doing later in life. I am still unclear about the accident, what caused it, where Nicole is, who is Nicole, and why there were such extravagant measures taken to cover it up. It seemed that the details of setting up the crash, the sorority secrecy, Shelley's life and Mira's marriage problems are well articulated. I wanted the ending to have the same care given. It felt like a different author wrote the last 50 pages.

Strong writing. Take out the raunch and extraneous details, give me the answers to my questions, and I would have loved this book.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Brandon Mull's BEYONDERS Winners!

A World Without Heroes (Beyonders)

Scoot and Asenath!
If they come autographed, do NOT tell me.  Brandon came to my Costco to sign books.  Did he sign mine?  No, he did not.  I did not have time to stand in the line that looped clear back to produce and interfered with my baby carrots and salad mix.  

Let me be a loser in peace.

Thank you.

Altar of Bones Winners!

Altar of Bones

I know, I know!  I'm late announcing winners  (I just typed "sinners" tee, hee). 

And the winners are:

Lucy and Anita

who both, when pressed, said they love my reviews.

Ahh.  I love compliments.

Murder Takes the Cake by Gayle Trent Review

From Goodreads:  Cozy murder mystery. When the meanest gossip in Brea Ridge dies mysteriously, suspicions turn to cake decorator Daphne Martin. But all Daphne did was deliver a spice cake with cream cheese frosting--and find Yodel's body. Now Daphne's got to help solve the murder and clear her good name. Problem is, her Virginia hometown is brimming with people who had good reason to kill Yodel, and Daphne's whole family is among them

My take:  Can a cake kill? That’s what the townspeople of Brea Ridge are wondering in Murder Takes the Cake by Gayle Trent. Daphne Martin, returns to her small hometown to start her new business, Daphne’s Delectable Cakes. When she delivers a cake to her very first customer she steps right into a mess of trouble. Her first customer, Yodel Watson is dead and the rumor is that the cake killed her. But there is a long list of reasons to murder the town gossip, including Yodel’s tell-all journal. Daphne might have discovered another motive when she unearths a family secret. The cake maker must explore her family history, find the killer and clear her name before the death of her cake business and maybe herself.

Murder Takes the Cake is a “sweet” read and Trent’s Daphne is a humorous and likeable character. At times the flow of the writing hits a snag when Daphne talks directly to the reader, but there are ‘wink, wink,’ moments which are entertaining. Overall it was an enjoyable book and I looked forward to picking it up to find out ‘who done it.’ I give Trent the compliment of making me want to read another Daphne Martin murder mystery. 

Four out of five stars. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Falling Apart in One Piece -- One Optimist's Journey Through the Hell of Divorce by Stacy Morrison

Falling Apart in One Piece -- One Optimist's Journey Through the Hell of Divorce 
by Stacy Morrison
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (March 23, 2010)
Pages:  256
4 out of 5 stars
Book Description:  The emotionally charged story of a divorce that brought the surprising gift of grace
Just when Stacy Morrison thought everything in her life had come together, her husband of ten years announced that he wanted a divorce. She was left alone with a new house that needed a lot of work, a new baby who needed a lot of attention, and a new job in the high-pressure world of New York magazine publishing.

Morrison had never been one to believe in fairy tales. As far as she was concerned, happy endings were the product of the kind of ambition and hard work that had propelled her to the top of her profession. But she had always considered her relationship with her husband a safe place in her often stressful life. All of her assumptions about how life works crumbled, though, when she discovered that no amount of will and determination was going to save her marriage.

For Stacy, the only solution was to keep on living, and to listen -- as deeply and openly as possible -- to what this experience was teaching her.

Told with humor and heart, her honest and intimate account of the stress of being a working mother while trying to make sense of her unraveling marriage offers unexpected lessons of love, forgiveness, and dignity that will resonate with women everywhere.

My take:  Phew! I don't have to write the story of my divorce; Stacy Morrison has done it for me, and better than I ever could have in Falling Apart in One Piece.

One day, and seemingly out of nowhere, Stacy's husband Chris declared he was done with their marriage. Morrison takes the reader through the journey of divorce, destruction, and rebuilding in an impeccably written memoir. The piles of troubles that only begin with her divorce are revealed honestly, with a rawness mingled with elegance in the telling.

With Morrison as the guide I was able to navigate through my own story of divorce with moments of insight and moments of, "Yes, that's what I've been trying to say." And also moments of vulnerability, anger, and even a few tears. Any marriage has a story, and to realize that some of that story must be rewritten to become the tale of the present can be a startling surprise. In Falling Apart in One Piece, Morrison takes the reader through that surprise and sums up her narrative with hope that the pieces of the kaleidoscope will rearrange themselves into patterns of ever-changing beauty. 

Stacy Morrison, author of Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist's Journey Through the Hell of Divorce, is the editor in chief of Redbook magazine.  She was formerly executive editor at Marie Claire and editor in chief of Modern Bride, and has appeared as an expert on women, love, sex, money, and more on Today, CNN Moneyline, and The Early Show, among many other television programs.  Stacy lives in Brooklyn with her son, Zack.

For more information please visit and follow the author on Facebook.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Changing Shoes by Tina Sloan Review

Changing Shoes: Getting Older--Not Old--with Style, Humor, and Grace

From Goodreads:  After twenty-six years starring as nurse Lillian Raines on the hit soap opera Guiding Light, Tina Sloan knows a thing or two about surviving the pitfalls of growing older in front of the world. From depleted storylines, to transitioning from sizzling screen diva to a mature grandmother Changing Shoes shows that even TV grandmothers can have style and flair. Drawing from the lessons she has learned in her own life, Tina candidly shares her endearing, sensitive, and often funny, story of crossing into her next phase of her life. And, in doing so, she offers important tips on how to embrace womanhood with ease.

My take:  I give almost every book I read at least one hundred pages to make me look forward to picking it up again after page 101.  This book belongs to the small handful of exceptions.  I would have to read 53 more pages to give it a fair shake.  Sorry, I can't even do that much.  In 47 pages I have had multiple episodes of eye rolling, sighing, and out-loud,  and "Oh, give me a break"s.  This is a shallow, unreadable book about how to change yourself and not change yourself. The author, aging former soap opera queen Tina Sloan, can't make clear, at least in 47 pages, which I should actually do.  I'm not even inspired to buy a new pair of shoes.  Sorry. 

12 Bits of Advice For a Rewarding Life
By Tina Sloan, author of Changing Shoes: Getting Older -Not Old- with Style, Humor, and Grace

1) Be True to Yourself. Always make sure that the shoes you wear are your own. That way your feet will know where to take you.

2) Never Compromise All of Yourself. The truly great thing about women dating at our age is that, unlike in their younger days, most are not willing to compromise.

3) Claim Your Feel Good Energy. I think, more than anything, feeling sexy and desirable is about energy. It's all about tapping that flirtatious instinct that all women have.

4) Live in Kindness and Generosity. We need to be generous with the women following in our footsteps in the hope that they will be generous with us.

5) Embrace Change.
 Change often leads us somewhere interesting, whether we've looked for it or not.

6) Expect Bitter-Sweet Moments. There is perhaps nothing more rewarding for a parent than watching your child grow up and spread his wings- and for many, nothing more heartbreaking at the same time.

7) Prepare to Reinvent Yourself. Kids bring so much energy into your life- different people and all sorts of new experiences and ideas. When you get older, you have to generate that energy yourself, and you have to work at it.

8) Give Back. Nothing quite prepares you for the unsettling feeling of being called upon to care for those who once cared for you.

9) Persevere. We do learn something about ourselves when we are up against the wall, and we do most certainly come out stronger.

10) Draw Your Own Map. Aging is like a marathon. The key is to stay in the race and continue putting one foot in front of the other until we cross the finish line on our own terms.

11) Choose to Live Rather than Exist.
 You have to learn to silence the voice that tries to cajole you with excuses and reasons why it would be better to just sit this one out.

12) Don't be Afraid of Falling.
 Whenever I wondered if I was brave enough to take another chance, or stretch beyond my normal range, or try something completely new I remind myself that I was an expert at the fine art of falling, and that most of the time, I landed on my feet.
Copyright © 2011 Tina Sloan, author of Changing Shoes: Getting Older -Not Old- with Style, Humor, and Grace
Author Bio

Tina Sloan, author of Changing Shoes: Getting Older - Not Old- with Style, Humor, and Graceplayed the role of Nurse Lillian Raines on Guiding Light, which aired its final episode in 2009 after a seventy-two year run on radio and television.  She has appeared on many other television shows, including Third Watch,and Law & Order: SVU, and in a variety of feature films, including The Brave One and Changing Lanes. She is currently shooting two feature films and touring nationally in her acclaimed one-woman show,Changing Shoes.  She lives in New York with her husband, Steve McPherson.  They have one son, Renny.

For more information please visit and follow the author on Facebook andTwitter

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Conversations with a Moonflower Review

 From Goodreads:  It all begins with a little flower. This tenderly told story is a beautiful reminder to appreciate the simple joys around you. The perfect gift for even the busiest mothers and friends in your life, this book is guaranteed to change chaos to calm and inspire all to look beyond the ordinary and see the extraordinary.

My take:  The author shares her experience of cleaning out the old family homestead, her grandmother's house, which lies right in Amish country.  The Amish neighbors took the time to pay their respects when her grandmother passed away then continued to offer companionship while the grown children (who were also grandparents, themselves), cleaned out the house and said goodbye one last time.  

One neighbor, Marissa, invited Chris and her sister to watch the moonflower bloom.  It sounded silly but they were genuinely delighted to be invited to this woman's home.  It was a unique and wonderful experience and Marissa prepared a moonflower for the sisters to take home and plant.  

The moonflower blooms during the summer at dusk.  The pod quiver and shake and within seconds, the blossom bursts and spreads.  Some nights no flowers bloom.  Other nights, nearly 30 will grace the plant.  The gift of the moonflower is the byproduct.  Friends drop by to sit and wait.  Friendships are renewed.  Family time is extended.  

Some nights, only Chris was present for the show.  What follows is a conversation Chris has within herself as she takes the time to be still.  Alone with the moonflower, her mind wanders and finally settles on certain problem spots in her life.  As she sits and patiently waits for the bloom, answers reveal themselves. The truths she discovers are not earth shattering but, like Chris, they resonate like a remembering.  They are basic principles that I needed reminding.  In near parable form, the truths revealed with the moonflower will be different for everybody.  

For me,  Chris and the moonflower reminded me to:

  • Be Still - that's how He teaches us.
  • Be Prayerful - Ask for what we need.
  • Be Patient - Allow the answers to come without forcing them.  They will come.
  • Listen - Resonating with Be Still and Be patient.
  • Be True - If I am a moonflower, I will never be a daisy.  Accept what I am and find my own purpose.
For me, Chris brought the balm for my wounds and touched me deeply.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Art and Madness by Anne Roiphe GIVEAWAY

Art and Madness: A Memoir of Lust Without Reason 

Luminous and intensely personal, Art and Madness recounts the lost years of Anne Roiphe’s twenties, when the soon-to-be-critically-acclaimed author put her dreams of becoming a writer on hold to devote herself to the magnetic but coercive male artists of the period. 
Coming of age in the 1950s, Roiphe, the granddaughter of Jewish immigrants, grew up on Park Avenue and had an adolescence defined by privilege, petticoats, and social rules. At Smith College her classmates wore fraternity pins on their cashmere sweaters and knit argyle socks for their boyfriends during lectures. Young women were expected to give up personal freedom for devotion to home and children. Instead, Roiphe chose Beckett, Proust, Sartre, and Mann as her heroes and sought out the chaos of New York’s White Horse Tavern and West End Bar. 
She was unmoored and uncertain, “waiting for a wisp of truth, a feather’s brush of beauty, a moment of insight.” Salvation came in the form of a brilliant playwright whom she married and worked to support, even after he left her alone on their honeymoon and later pawned her family silver, china, and pearls. Her near-religious belief in the power of art induced her to overlook his infidelity and alcoholism, and to dutifully type his manuscripts in place of writing her own. 
During an era that idolized its male writers, she became, sometimes with her young child in tow, one of the girls draped across the sofa at parties with George Plimpton, Terry Southern, Doc Humes, Norman Mailer, Peter Matthiessen, and William Styron. In the Hamptons she socialized with Larry Rivers, Jack Gelber and other painters and sculptors. “Moderation for most of us is a most unnatural condition . . . . I preferred to burn out like a brilliant firecracker.” But while she was playing the muse reality beckoned, forcing her to confront the notion that any sacrifice was worth making for art.
Art and Madness recounts the fascinating evolution of a time when art and alcohol and rebellion caused collateral damage and sometimes produced extraordinary work. In clear-sighted, perceptive, and unabashed prose, Roiphe shares with astonishing honesty the tumultuous adventure of self-discovery that finally led to her redemption.

Thanks to Doubleday, I have two copies up for grabs.  Leave me a comment with email address written in a form spammers can't follow - nancyisweird at gmail dot com.

U.S. only
Ends April 15th 
Happy Tax Day!

Waiting on Wednesday

*This photo is courtesy of my mom.  She must have seen a trend.  Thanks, Mom.* 

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

I really, really can't wait (but I will - unless you have it and want to send it to me) for:

BumpedAbandonEntwinedEnclave Ruby Red (Ruby Red - Trilogy)

I also can't wait for the day when I can go to the bathroom ALONE. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Night RoadNight Road by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From Goodreads:  Jude Farraday is a happily married, stay-at-home mom who puts everyone’s needs above her own. Her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill enters their lives, no one is more supportive than Jude. A former foster child with a dark past, Lexi quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable. But senior year of high school brings unexpected dangers and one night, Jude’s worst fears are confirmed: there is an accident. In an instant, her idyllic life is shattered and her close-knit community is torn apart. People—and Jude—demand justice, and when the finger of blame is pointed, it lands solely on eighteen-year-old Lexi Baill. In a heartbeat, their love for each other will be shattered, the family broken. Lexi gives up everything that matters to her—the boy she loves, her place in the family, the best friend she ever had—while Jude loses even more.

When Lexi returns, older and wiser, she demands a reckoning. Long buried feelings will rise again, and Jude will finally have to face the woman she has become. She must decide whether to remain broken or try to forgive both Lexi…and herself.

Night Road is a vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, loss, identity, and forgiveness. It is an exquisite, heartbreaking novel that speaks to women everywhere about the things that matter most.

My take: I don't like the book description. It doesn't tell what the book really is. It sounds like Lexi is a problem foster child who breaks up a family then returns to haunt the remnants after destroying them. That's not what the story is about at all. It's about motherhood, grieving, forgiveness, hope, love, and finding joy and beauty in chaos, rebuilding a reality, patience, and so many other things. Here are the cast of characters:

Jude: Middle aged mother of twins, Zack and Mia. She lives for her children and delights in being the helicopter mom. Her life revolves around her children. She is overcompensating for her own mother's shortcomings. Her mother withdrew when Jude's father died. Jude grew up with nannies and an emotional distant mother. She thrives on order and keeping to her plans. Jude's overall wellbeing is reflected in her garden. Jude is the character I wanted to hate the most and at times, I did. But, like Jude, I long for a villain to lay blame upon and ultimately realize all our ills can not be attributed to one act or one person. Jude's character is the most developed in this book. We follow Jude through her perfect life of the wife of a doctor, her beautiful home, her hobbies, and her children. We then follow her through her tragedy, despair, oppressive and overwhelming depression, her withdrawal from all that used to be important to her, and her eventual healing and acceptance. The pages in the end where she walks through her garden and finds beauty in the chaos are poetic.

Miles: Jude's husband of twenty some odd years. He is a medical doctor, well accomplished, easy-going, and very, very patient.

Mia: We meet Mia at the age of 14 on the first day of high school. She is beautiful, albeit quiet, somewhat backward, struggles with her complexion. She is sweet, funny, but lonely. She is known as Zack's sister. She has no identity until she meets Lexie and they become best friends. They spend their high school days and nights telling secrets, sharing dreams, and supporting one another. Mia and Lexie are the epitome of true friends.

Zack: Mia's twin and Mr. Popular. He's athletic, handsome, social, and well-liked. He ignores Lexie completely because of his devotion to his sister. He will not take Lexie from Mia. Eventually, of course, their romance blossoms and Zack and Lexie also share their days and nights together. Zack intimates how frightened he is of failure and disappointing his parents. Zack sacrifices much to keep family peace. He loves deeply, and is devoted to his sister and mother.

Lexie: We meet Lexie as she is entering another foster home. Her mother was a drug addict who died years before. This is her 7th placement. Turns out that a great aunt has been tracked down. She lives in the poor part of town in a double wide but she is unselfish and loves Lexie immediately. Lexie commits social suicide (as explained by her new best friend) by becoming Mia's best friend on the first day of school. She loves Mia immediately. Lexie encompasses eternal hope. Life's been rough for her but she optimistically believes in people. She becomes part of the Farraday household immediately and treads carefully to stay in Jude's good graces. Highly moral and naive, she accepts guilt when it is assigned to her without question.

The Great Aunt (I'm too lazy to go upstairs and look up her name): Small player in the story but very important. She is selfless to a fault and provides Lexie with a sense of belonging and home regardless of circumstances.

Obviously, a tragedy occurs and Lexie takes the fall. Lexie who is from the other side of the tracks or bridge and has so few options makes the choice to atone for the sins of all involved that night. Regardless of the "justice," there is still loss and grief. Each character grieves differently. Each character accepts a different role. One grows a backbone. One realizes the difference between important parts that are left behind in the past rather than "lost." One finds beauty in chaos and finds within the self the ability to feel again. To close off the pain is to close off joy and love.

I didn't cry. No, I did not. I don't cry over a book. Except Tuesdays With Morrie. And maybe just a teensy weensy bit with this one. Just a few tears.

Beautifully written book with a keen understanding of the human heart and nature.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Book Winners!

Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing

Lisa P. and Lacey!

The Postmistress

Crystal F.

The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady

Lee and Jessica

Congratulations Winners!

Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell

Unfamiliar FishesUnfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the 7th grade, I, like every other terrified adolescent, entered the classroom to study my state's history. My own teacher was the archaic Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown must have been nearing retirement. Although I took Utah History in the late 1970's, I am certain that Mr. Brown was a member of a handcart group that traversed the country well over a hundred years earlier. In his polyester suit, Mr. Brown droned about one or another trapper or explorer while I tried to stay awake by concentrating on the direction his strabismus eyes were pointing or the pattern on his hands formed with age spots.

It was stellar year.

Now imagine being an emotional adolescent in a state history class where the teacher is Sarah Vowell as she laments her culinary experiences in Hawaii where she was assaulted with foods that do not belong on the same plate like kalua pig, chicken adobo, teriyaki beef, or Loco Moco (a hamburger patty topped with gravy and a fried egg, a dish presumably invented to remedy what has always been the hamberger's most obvious defect - not enough egg). - Sarah Vowell.

Later she discusses the missionaries who arrive in Hawaii to convert the heathens to Christianity and throw in Genesis to justify their conversions. My favorite is p. 49 of ARC, "... In fact, the fruit of knowledge poisons them to fancy ideas and so they are cast out of a garden bearing a striking resemblance to the island of Kauai. (Though having been to the pleasantly sleepy Kauai, I can see how after a few days of lollygagging amidst the foliage a woman would bite into just about anything to scare up something to read). Sarah, take your Kindle.

Naturally, Sarah could not be my Utah History teacher because Hawaii is so very different from Utah. But wait! This is a history of the Hawaiian Islands and their conversion to Christianity! Captain Cook is glossed over to some degree - probably because he left behind multiple STDs that significantly cut the population and may have introduced leprosy (another book I read on Hawaii which I loved called "Mokokai") but the missionaries began arriving to teach the natives. Lo and behold, Brigham Young sent Walter Murray Gibson to the islands as a missionary. Okay, that didn't really work out very well. Gibson sold titles and priesthood to the natives then bought up land. He was recalled to Utah where the charges were proved true. He was excommunicated and ordered to return the money to the natives. He refused. So he returned to Hawaii to satisfy his delusions of grandeur.

I can see why that little tidbit was not taught during Utah History.

Excellent history book, bringing life and humor to an otherwise dry recitation of fact.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lucky Leprechaun Blog Hop

Just in case you are as much of a book addict as I am and I totally won't judge you for being one (junkie) nor will I call you names (nerd) here are some sites to visit for some really cool giveaways!

But first you have to get a gander at mine!  Because I have just a few too many ARCs and I need to share the love.

Here's what you get to choose from:

Playing HurtGone (Wake)The Secret Lives of DressesThe Linen Queen: A NovelThe Demon Trapper's Daughter: A Demon Trapper Novel (Demon Trapper Novels)Coming Back (Sharon Mccone Mysteries)Rise Again: A Zombie Thriller13, rue Thérèse: A Novel