Monday, June 27, 2016

My Review of "God Bless America"

God Bless America is a beautiful adult coloring book.  The pages are printed on high quality heavy paper, perforated, and printed on only one side of the page.  Most of the pages have a quote by a famous American (Franklin D. Roosevelt, Neil Armstrong, Lady Bird Johnson, Susan B. Anthony, etc.) woven into the coloring picture.  The 37 pictures here are all beautifully drawn (by nine different artists) even though not all are drawn in the same style.  Other pictures, while without a quote, contain a paragraph about the image for that page.  There's something here for everyone.

I received a free copy of this book as part of the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review here.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

My Review of "Together at the Table"

Hillary Manton Lodge's Together at the Table: A Novel of Lost Loves and Second Helpings is a compelling and beautiful story of Juliette D'Alisa, a young Seattle woman who's working hard to get her fledgling restaurant -- with whom she is co-owner with Nico, her brother -- off the ground.  When, in a series of tragedies, she comes face-to-face with death -- the death of her relationship with her long-term boyfriend, and the real death of her mother.

Months later, she's dating her brother's sous chef, Adrian, who is wild about Juliette, and trying to again find her footing when her ex, Neil shows up in Seattle.  Remembering memories she thought she was over, Juliette struggles to separate the life that was with the life she has now.  It doesn't help that Neil keeps showing up in her world or that up until now Juliette never fully admitted what her heart knows; she's not over the not-so-distant past.

Together at the Table is a gentle love story that blends lots of fun recipes into the narrative.  It's a great novel for some light summer reading fare.

I received a free copy of this book as part of the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review here.

Friday, June 3, 2016

My Review of "Vinegar Girl"

Anne Tyler's Vinegar Girl attempts to re-tell the story of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew for a modern audience.  So many, of course, think Shakespeare's story is irredemably sexist (it isn't -- Shakespeare is always more nuanced than modern ears can appreciate), but Tyler's version is faithful to the Bard's own nuanced story in fresh ways.

In Tyler's version, a sharp-tongued preschool assistant, Kate Battista, whose scientist father is convinced his dead-end research will soon break through -- if only he can hang onto his lab assistant, Pyotr Shcherbakov, whose O-1 visa is about to expire.  That's right, Dr. Battista wants Kate to marry Pytor to keep him in the country:  After all, he points out, she doesn't exactly have men flocking after her like her airhead sister Bunny, and she's still in high school.  Kate is hurt by her father's thoughtless cruelty, and already these characters have more depth than Shakespeare allows his broadly drawn protagonists.  The real drama, though, is between Kate and her widowed father, who depends on her without really valuing her; even self-absorbed Bunny turns out to have more appreciation for her sister than the selfish Dr. Battista.  The rest is a masterful re-telling that avoids all the counter-tale traps one might expect.

Vinegar Girl is a wonderful summer read.

I received a free copy of this book as part of the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review here.