Friday, February 20, 2009

The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography by Sidney Poitier

I have been a fan of Sidney Poitier ever since I first watched "To Sir With Love"! Who hasn't? But is it the character? Or is it the man? I consider him to be one of our greatest actors and yet so quietly he came to greatness. Until reading this autobiography, I can't say I knew very much about Sidney Poitier. Now, I can say that my respect for him is well-placed and I'm even more a fan.

From his childhood, growing up in poverty on Cat Island in the Bahamas, to his battle with prostate cancer, this book reveals the life of a man of dignity. I found his childhood filled with treasured memories growing up with a freedom most children never know and also packed with lessons that most never learn, but that stood him well in later life. I found myself agreeing with his thoughts and comparisons of that childhood with respect to today's children with their video games and need for constant outside stimulus.

Times were different then, and so were the struggles he faced. He was a man who worked hard and took pride in what he accomplished. When things were difficult, he kept his focus and never gave up. I appreciated his discussions about the making of his films and his perspective relating the stories to what was happening historically. The one thing I have to respect him for is his humility. Often I noticed him giving credit to those who came before him for paving the way for him and those who came after.

I recommend reading this book. We can all learn something from such a thoughtful, intelligent, respectful human being.

When We Were Romans by Matthew Kneale

This was an easy read and interesting, although I'm not sure I really enjoyed it. The story is told from the perspective of a nine-year old boy with all the focus and interests one would expect from this age. His friends, his hamster, his toys and his relationships with his family. Occasionally we are treated to excerpts of his learning about Space and Roman history. It is much more than that, tho, the reader finds, as the story unfolds. At first I was amused at the perspective, and I am impressed with the author's ability to stay 'in character' throughout. Some would be bothered by the mis-spellings and grammatical errors but it is what you would expect from inside the mind of a 9-yr old. There were definitely times I felt that Lawrence was mature for his age, like when he is trying his best to help his mother even when he's not sure what it is that she needs, and other times when I felt he was simply acting out by his deliberate misbehaviour. The interaction between him and his sister was completely believable. There were parts that puzzled me and the ending was not at all expected but did make everything clearer and more understandable. I don't like to give away an ending, so I won't, but I do feel this book is worth reading. It will draw you in.

To Marry The Duke by Julianne MacLean

A lot of historical romances are basically the same. Just expanded versions of the boy-meets-girl formula and set in historical times. That being said, I found this book bright and refreshing. Yes we do have the historical setting, and as the title implies, the plan is to marry a Duke. Our heroine, however, is no blushing young maid, but instead is a strong, forthright and independent American daughter of a working class background whose family has made it big in America. Being rich, however, doesn't automatically give one entrance into American society and therein lies the reason Sophia has come to have a 'season' in London Society. How she handles the oh so proper London Society, and her new family make this a fun and enjoyable read. I particularly appreciated the perspective of Sophia's Dangerous Duke which added depth to the story.

If you're a die-hard romance fan, give this one a try. I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

City Above The Sea And Other Poems by Stephen Alan Saft

A book of poetry. Easy to read and like most books of poetry, not all will be liked or enjoyed by everyone. Some of the poems didn't quite catch my attention, however, there were others that spoke to me, bringing back memories that I could relate to the poems, or in the case of a couple, so discriptive that I could almost be there. 'To An Old Professer Wherever" reminded me of an english teacher who made a huge impression on me and encouraged my reading habits! 'The Cucumber Plant To The Sun' and 'Tomatoes' brought images. textures and tastes to mind. I could almost smell them growing and could definitely picture them in my minds eye. 'Solomon Bricker' is one that required the reader to think, and 'New York In Winter' amused me for some reason. 'Memories of a Father' struck a little close to home and with a few changes here and there, it could be for my own Father. For some reason, 'Blacksmith' also reminded me of my Father. I liked 'What Will Be' just because.

If you enjoy poetry, then you might want to give this one a try.

Legs Talk: Let Your Legs Do The Talking by D.E. Boone

This is a cute little book. A quick read, less than an hour and quite enjoyable. It's a different take on romance with the whole story being conducted pictorially by legs. The comments accompanying each picture are humorous and playful. This would make a fun addition to a Valentine's gift, or for anyone who appreciates a unique take on the dating game.

Tidings of Great Joy by Sandra Brown

A wonderful story! Of course the usual boy meets girl, some conflict arises, they resolve it while falling madly in love, and well, you know the rest! This one is a little bit of a different approach and I enjoyed it completely. I won't tell any secrets, but there were a couple of parts in the story that really caught at my heart. Unlike the usual fluff romance, I found the depth of the characters and situations to be more complex. We have a strong, independent, successful and self-sufficient woman, and an equally successful, caring, charming man. They have believable conflicts and resolutions and yet there is also all the romance, seduction and heat one would want in a romance.
For all those who love a good, light romance, this is one I'd recommend.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hot & Bothered by Susan Andersen

Another great story by Susan Andersen. The only thing I'm disappointed in, is that this is Book 3 of 4, and I don't have 2 0r 4 yet! The characters are so well developed in this story that I almost felt like I knew them. They were real, and well balanced. Victoria comes from a life of privilege and a corrupt family. She gets drawn back into the family circle when her father is found murdered, and her half-brother Jared the prime suspect and on the run. Victoria is left to pick up the pieces of her father's life, but first she needs to find Jared. Enter John, the man she had a "no strins, no last names" fling with 6 yrs ago. As a private eye, what he does best is find missing kids and despite their unresolved past, Victoria hires John to help her find her missing brother and solve her father's murder.

This is the kind of book that you just want to keep reading. It's addictive and the further into it I got, the less I wanted to put it down. I'm just going to have to go out and find the other two books in this series now!

Head Over Heels by Susan Andersen

This was a fun, intelligent read! In the words of Jayne Ann Krentz, "Bright, smart, sexy, thoroughly entertaining". I felt this book to be a more grown-up, sassy romance and deserving of the name 'chic-lit' over 'fluff'. Veronica is an independent, caring professional with a career and a great life-style. Then she has to return to the town she couldn't wait to leave and take care of a family crisis. Of course when she gets there, she meets the dangerous Cooper Blackstock and the sparks start flying! Solving a murder and taking care of family business keep Veronica busy, but not so busy she can't fall in love.

I really enjoyed Head Over Heels, and of course had to continue with the next in the series. If you like light-hearted, intelligent romance, with a little mystery thrown in, then this book is for you! By the way, this is Book 1 in a series of 4, so be prepared to be hooked!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Letters From New Orleans by Rob Walker

What a treat this was! To re-visit New Orleans through Rob Walker's eyes was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed every part of this book. It had me wishing I had explored more and gotten to know more of the local people during my short stay there. Not to worry, tho, as I'm already planning a trip back.

Rob Walker spent about 3 years living in and exploring New Orleans, but he didn't just do the touristy things. He delved into a little of what makes New Orleans tick. A little history, a little politics, and a lot of day to day experiences.

And as they say in this quote from his book, quoting The Time Out Guide to New Orleans: "Orleanians are proud of their culture. Visitors are expected to be as enthusiastic about the city as the natives are. If you like the city, tell everyone; if you're not happy in New Orleans, keep it to yourself." I loved the city, and loved this book!

Monday, February 2, 2009

I read this book awhile ago, and quite enjoyed it. It is so well written and so enjoyable, that it's easy to disregard the innocent ignorance of our married leading lady, Lady Emmalene Eberhart. One would expect a woman living in those times, who has been allowed to learn the bow and arrow, and who has had the freedom of her father's castle, who has been running her husband's castle and even seeing to the training of his men in his absence, to be less ignorant of the ways between a man and a woman, but therein lies the crux of the problem.

How Lady Emmalene approaches becoming a good wife and mother, which is after all what any good wife should aspire to, makes for an interesting twist in the story. Throw in a feudal struggle for the property and dowry that come with her, and a ruggedly handsome, landless knight, and you have the makings for a wonderfully medieval who-dun-it/romance.

For sheer enjoyment and a love of romances set in medieval times, this book is a great read! If you're looking for more history and weight to your reading, tho, I'd give this a pass.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Jumble Pie by Melanie Lynne Hauser

Jumble Pie is the story of a pie, and it's position as a metaphor in the lives of two girls. Jumble Pie is also a coming of age story. Starting out with two young girls who meet in school, become friends, and grow up together, we follow their story of coming to terms with their differences and what makes them friends. Although we move between the two girls, it is mostly about Em, and her view of their relationship and how she feels about things. Occasionally we see Juliet's viewpoint, although it also revolves around Em. The continuing thread in the story, and the piece de resistance that holds them together is 'the pie'. Hmmmm....I wonder if it tastes as good as it sounds???

Updated note: I received an email from the Green Apple Team who publish Melanie Lynne Hauser's books and they very kindly provided me with a cover for the book, along with a link so that you can download your own copy of Jumble Pie! How nice of them! :) Here's the link:

Diary of a Blues Goddess by Erica Orloff

First of all I have to say I enjoyed this book for it's setting in New Orleans and the memories provoked. It did however bring back a wish that I had been able to go to The House of Blues while I was there. This book is just a little taste of New Orleans and the music it is famous for.

Diary of a Blues Goddess is a little bit romance, a little bit chic lit, and a little bit paranormal, but what else would you expect in New Orleans! Of course there has to be blues, jazz, ghosts, beignets, a little bit of plantations, a lot of the French Quarter and loads of wonderful characters. It is well named as a Diary and revolves around Georgia and the events leading to her realization that yes she can sing the blues....and she is a 'Blues Goddess'. That's not really a spoiler, tho, as it's nothing more than what's implied in the title.

So, yes, I recommend that you join Georgia in her quest to sing the blues, and meet all her interesting and flamboyant friends, lovers and relatives, and while you're there, have a little taste of New Orleans!