Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving Sarah Josephine Hale… and Thank You!

Happy Thanksgiving! Today is the traditional day where we enjoy the company of family & friends and remember those we could not be with. We should remember to thank Sarah Josephine Hale for her persistence in urging President Lincoln to set aside a day for such celebration…

From Sarah J. Hale to Abraham Lincoln, September 28, 1863


Permit me, as Editress of the "Lady's Book", to request a few minutes of your precious time, while laying before you a subject of deep interest to myself and -- as I trust -- even to the President of our Republic, of some importance. This subject is to have the day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.

You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.

Enclosed are three papers (being printed these are easily read) which will make the idea and its progress clear and show also the popularity of the plan.

For the last fifteen years I have set forth this idea in the "Lady's Book", and placed the papers before the Governors of all the States and Territories -- also I have sent these to our Ministers abroad, and our Missionaries to the heathen -- and commanders in the Navy. From the recipients I have received, uniformly the most kind approval. Two of these letters, one from Governor (now General) Banks and one from Governor Morgan[2] are enclosed; both gentlemen as you will see, have nobly aided to bring about the desired Thanksgiving Union.

But I find there are obstacles not possible to be overcome without legislative aid -- that each State should, by statute, make it obligatory on the Governor to appoint the last Thursday of November, annually, as Thanksgiving Day; -- or, as this way would require years to be realized, it has ocurred to me that a proclamation from the President of the United States would be the best, surest and most fitting method of National appointment.

I have written to my friend, Hon. Wm. H. Seward, and requested him to confer with President Lincoln on this subject As the President of the United States has the power of appointments for the District of Columbia and the Territories; also for the Army and Navy and all American citizens abroad who claim protection from the U. S. Flag -- could he not, with right as well as duty, issue his proclamation for a Day of National Thanksgiving for all the above classes of persons? And would it not be fitting and

patriotic for him to appeal to the Governors of all the States, inviting and commending these to unite in issuing proclamations for the last Thursday in November as the Day of Thanksgiving for the people of each State? Thus the great Union Festival of America would be established.

Now the purpose of this letter is to entreat President Lincoln to put forth his Proclamation, appointing the last Thursday in November (which falls this year on the 26th) as the National Thanksgiving for all those classes of people who are under the National Government particularly, and commending this Union Thanksgiving to each State Executive: thus, by the noble example and action of the President of the United States, the permanency and unity of our Great American Festival of Thanksgiving would be forever secured.

An immediate proclamation would be necessary, so as to reach all the States in season for State appointments, also to anticipate the early appointments by Governors.[3]

Excuse the liberty I have taken

With profound respect

Yrs truly

Sarah Josepha Hale

Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois.
Courtesy Library of Congress.

Sarah Josephine Hale was a remarkable woman for the times she lived in. She was a successful writer, took on many causes, and became the editor of Ladies Magazine. You can read more about her and her efforts at creating a proper Thanksgiving at Pilgrim Hall Museum. And you can read more about Sarah herself at the Boston Women's Heritage Trail website.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Sunday Salon celebrates Thanksgiving & Chanukah!

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's that time of the week where all of us readers get together virtually and share our bookish thoughts! So find a comfy chair, grab a cup of joe and let's talk books!

Surprisingly this week we will be celebrating both Thanksgiving and the start of Chanukah! So, I thought we'd talk about a few books for both occasions. First though, let's talk about not the miracle of lights, but the miracle of Chanukah falling on Thanksgiving…

The first day of Chanukah starts at sunset on Wednesday November 27 the night before Thanksgiving, on November 28, 2013. Here is how this "miracle" came about as explained by Deborah Mitchel Serval writing for the Press DemocratIt turns out that it has never happened before . . . and it will never happen again. Thanksgiving is set as the fourth Thursday in November, meaning the latest it can be is November 28. November 27  is also the earliest Chanuakah can be. The Jewish calendar repeats on a 19 year cycle, and Thanksgiving repeats on a 7 year cycle. You would therefore expect them to coincide roughly every 19×7 = 133 years... But They won't because the Jewish calendar is very slowly getting out of sync with the solar calendar, at a rate of 4 days per 1000 years which means that while presently Chanukah can be as early as November 28, over the years the calendar will drift forward, such that the earliest Chanukah can be is November 29.

Interesting huh?! Well, Thanksgiving is usually a wonderful, and potentially stressful family event, so I've got a last minute Thanksgiving cookbook, that's a bargain price on Kindle today, and something to lighten up Thanksgiving for the kids, and entertain the adults. Chanukah is a wonderful family celebration also, and I have something fun for the kids and a wonderful children's book that can be read every year to celebrate the meaning of Chanukah...

Thanksgiving: How To Cook It Well by Sam Sifton… From one of America’s finest food writers, the former restaurant critic for The New York Times, comes a definitive, timeless guide to Thanksgiving dinner—preparing it, surviving it, and pulling it off in style. From the planning of the meal to the washing of the last plate, Thanksgiving poses more—and more vexing—problems for the home cook than any other holiday. In this smartly written, beautifully illustrated, recipe-filled book, Sam Sifton, the Times’s resident Thanksgiving expert, delivers a message of great comfort and solace: There is no need for fear. You can cook a great meal on Thanksgiving. You can have a great time. With simple, fool-proof recipes for classic Thanksgiving staples, as well as new takes on old standbys, this book will show you that the fourth Thursday of November does not have to be a day of kitchen stress and family drama, of dry stuffing and sad, cratered pies.

Last minute Thanksgiving planning? Help may be on the way with this little gem from former restaurant critic Sam Sifton. This has gotten some great reviews. And today this is a BARGAIN KINDLE book! It's only $1.99! I gave it a chance and downloaded it. Sam Soften takes you from beginning to end in a very organized way and gives you wonderful basic recipes. From equipment to cleanup, from picking up a turkey to how to brine it to what to do with the leftovers, and he covers the classic Thanksgiving desserts too. As the title says, How To Cook it Well, is what the author is going to help you do. You want to cook a turkey, he will take you through! Want to give it a try, here is the link for Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well Kindle Edition!

Gobble Gobble Mad Libs and Hanukah Mad Libs by  Roger Price and Leonard Stern… Both these Mad Libs  features 21 original stories. Gobble Gobble Mad Libs is all about the yummiest holiday--Thanksgiving! Featuring hilarious stories about preparing and eating dinner, Thanksgiving traditions, and Black Friday shopping, it's sure to keep kids laughing for hours. Hanukah Mad Libs is all about the Festival of Lights! Our book features a ton of hilarious stories about lighting the menorah, spinning the dreidel, and much, much more!

Do you remember Mad Libs?! As a kid I use to love these! If you love words this is hilarious. Before the story, there is a list of words you must fill in randomly, such as a verb, adjective, noun, someone's name, etc. and then you take the list and fill in the blanks of the story.

"A Mad Lib is a funny, often ridiculous story created when you fill in the blanks with the part of speech that is requested."

Very entertaining for children who may become bored with Thanksgiving at the relatives, or a fun activity for the night of Chanukah! Both fun distractions for the adults! You can sample some Mad Libs at Its A Mad Libs World. And you should be able to pick up these or any number of fun Mad Lib theme books at your local bookstore for under $4.00 each. You can get Hanukah Mad Libs from Amazon for $2.52 at Hanukkah Mad Libs .

The Story of Hanukkah by David A. Adler… No celebration of Hanukkah would be complete without recountng the events of more than two thousand years ago that the holiday commemorates. In a simple yet dramatic text and vibrant paintings, the story of the courageous Maccabees and the miracle that took place in the Temple in Jerusalem is retold. For readers who want to continue the festivities, a recipe for latkes and directions for playing dreidel are included.

When I was looking for a nice children's book about the story of Chanukah last year, I found this book. It has beautiful illustrations and the story is well written. A great way to introduce your children to Chanukah, or even an adult! Here's a link to the Hardcover edition of The Story of Hanukkah .

The Week in Review… It was a slow week here due to my trying to get things done prior to surgery, but Memoir Monday returned with a blurb about A House in The Sky by Amanda Lindhout. Another girl going on an adventure with unfortunate results. From just reading an excerpt, I thought the writing was very good. Here's a link to Memoir Monday to check out the blurb from Monday, Nov. 18th.

The coming week will be a busy one with Chanukah on Wednesday night, followed by Thanksgiving the next day, putting up a Christmas tree soon after and lighting the menorah every night for the duration of Chanukah. Teaching my new husband about Chanukah has been fun, and having a Christmas tree is fun too.

I wish you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving and if you celebrate Chanukah, I wish you a wonderful Holiday too! Hope you found something interesting to read here this week! How do you celebrate these Holidays? And do you read any Holiday themed books for the occasions?

Happy reading… Suzanne

Monday, November 18, 2013

Memoir Monday

A House in The Sky by Amanda Lindhout… From the author's website: The dramatic and redemptive memoir of a woman whose curiosity led her to the world’s most beautiful and remote places, its most imperiled and perilous countries, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity—an exquisitely written story of courage, resilience, and grace

As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. At the age of nineteen, working as a cocktail waitress in Calgary, Alberta, she began saving her tips so she could travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each adventure, went on to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia—“the most dangerous place on earth.” On her fourth day, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road.

Held hostage for 460 days, Amanda converts to Islam as a survival tactic, receives “wife lessons” from one of her captors, and risks a daring escape. Moved between a series of abandoned houses in the desert, she survives on memory—every lush detail of the world she experienced in her life before captivity—and on strategy, fortitude, and hope. When she is most desperate, she visits a house in the sky, high above the woman kept in chains, in the dark, being tortured.

Another memoir by another young, idealistic girl who discovers that she is not invisible. Another story carved out from traveling innocently to another dangerous country, this time Somalia. I bypass these memoirs sometimes because it seems like it's the same type of story, just different person. This book has gotten great reviews, a lot of coverage and I did read an excerpt of the Prologue. I thought the writing was excellent and absorbing. The story seemed fresh. And so, this memoir, just published in September by Scribner is on my TBR list. The writing will make this one stand out. Here is the EXCERPT if you'd like to read it. And here are the links for the Hardcover and the Kindle Edition .

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Sunday Salon and Cookbooks for the Changing Season

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's that time of the week where we can all sit down, relax and talk about books! So grab a cup a joe, find a comfy chair and let's talk!

The cold weather has started to slip into Connecticut. There have been a few flurries of snow, but nothing to speak of… yet. But when the weather changes from bright sunny warm summer days to crisp fall days and then into gray colder days, my reading changes… and so does my cooking. I put away those summer beach reads and find comfort in longer tomes, different kinds of stories, maybe a classic or two. There are usually wonderful children's books about the season to amuse myself with, and I start to cook more comfort foods. The crockpot comes out, soups become welcome friends, and christmas cookies start dancing in my head.

I love cookbooks. I always have to take a peek at them when I'm wandering a bookstore. Even if you have a hundred cookbooks, if you enjoy cooking you always are tempted to pick up another one, especially if you found a recipe that looked like something you'd want to try. So, since it's that time of year again, I thought I would talk cookbooks….

Slow Cooker Revolution: Volume 2: The Easy Prep Edition by America's Test Kitchen… The test cooks at America’s Test Kitchen have worked their magic again, developing and perfecting an all-new collection of 200 slow- cooker recipes.With this volume, we looked at this must-have appliance in new ways to truly maximize its potential.You’ll learn how to make a host of dishes like Garlicky Shrimp, Chicken Soft Tacos, and Flourless Chocolate Cake--recipes you’d never expect to see coming out of a slow cooker. The moist heat of the slow cooker is tailor-made to serve up flavorful stews, chilis, and braises, but with our smart strategies and clever ingredient selections, we were also able to pull off full-flavored cheeseburgers, spice-rubbed roast chicken, ziti with meaty ragu, rare roast beef, poached salmon, and even cheesecake.

I have never been disappointed with any recipe coming out of America's Test Kitchen. They are amazing in their approaches to discovering the nuances that make a recipe work and taste good. I actually received a review copy of this not too long ago and am so excited to try some of these recipes! First of all, I have a big 6 Quart Crockpot, which is hard to find recipes actually tweaked for it. Yes, you can always double, add a little more of this & that, but sometimes it just doesn't work. This cookbook has recipes for 51/2 to 7 Quart slow cookers, and explains about time differences. What is also nice about this cookbook is that it is designed so that the prep time before you throw everything into the slow cooker no more than 15 minutes!! And finally, no recipe requires stovetop cooking, although I did see some microwaving in a few to prep something. There are fish recipes, beef & chicken and amazing desserts including Chocolate Cheesecake. You get an education here too, because there is plenty of the hows & whys explained. Want to try this cookbook? Here are the links for the Softcover Edition and the Kindle Edition !

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays by Ree Drummond… is an all-out celebration of the scrumptious, mouthwatering recipes that define our favorite occasions throughout the year. From luck-inducing Hoppin' John on New Year's Day, to a perfectly savory/sweet Glazed Easter Ham, to luscious Caramel Apples on Halloween, to a crowd-pleasing Thanksgiving feast with all the fixins, these pages are positively brimming with recipes guaranteed to make your holidays deliciously memorable . . . and memorably delicious! Twelve different holidays are covered in delectable detail: From New Year's Day to New Year's Eve . . . and all my favorites in between. Host a party for the Big Game for your football-loving friends, make Mom a lovely Mother's Day breakfast-in-bed, invite your sweetie to a Valentine's Day romantic dinner for two . . . or ring in the New Year with a fabulous cocktail party. There's food, glorious food in this cookbook, and you won't run out of yummy things to make.

I have enjoyed watching Lee Drummond show me how to prepare some great meals on her television show. Her story is a fun one - vegan loving city girl goes back home, falls in love with a cowboy, marries him and starts raising a family and cows. She found out cowboys don't eat salad and learned to cook crowd pleasing meals. She always makes it look simple, and her books have beautiful full color photos to show you what's going on in the prep. This is her newest cookbook that was just published last week. Now the Kindle edition is sold as an enhanced version, with audio & video! I might have to go for the Kindle edition instead of the hardcover just to experience that! Interested? Here are the links for the Hardcover and the Kindle Enhanced Edition ! And you can learn more about Lee at her website: The Pioneer Woman.

Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes by Deborah Madison… from the dust jacket: From the dust jacket: In her latest cookbook, Deborah Madison, America’s leading authority on vegetarian cooking and author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, reveals the surprising relationships between vegetables, edible flowers, and herbs within the same botanical families, and how understanding these connections can help home cooks see everyday vegetables in new light. This groundbreaking new cookbook is Madison’s crowning achievement: a celebration of the diversity of the plant kingdom, and an exploration of the fascinating relationships between vegetables, edible flowers, herbs, and familiar wild plants within the same botanical families.

This cookbook has gotten rave reviews. I love cookbooks like this because besides some recipes, the author shares her passion about the subject matter. I learn things I never would just getting getting a vegetable recipe out of The Joy of Cooking. (Although that is a staple in our house too). Deborah Madison is a chef, cooking instructor and food writer specializing in seasonal vegetables. She encourages one to gather your veggies from farmers and use heritage varieties. This is also one of those cookbooks that would make a great gift to your favorite cook or your favorite gardener, because it may not be the "norm" when you are buying a cookbook for yourself. Published this year by Random House, it is available in Hardcover and here is the link for the Kindle Edition .

Weekly Recap… This week I finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed. What an amazing book and adventure. I would definitely recommend this book to any hiker, person who enjoys a great memoir, but also to all my female friends and acquaintances! This is girl-power to the tenth degree! Inspirational on a variety of levels. Here's my REVIEW from friday, Nov. 15th.

I also talked about The Pleasures of Buying a Book in a Brick & Mortar Store. I read on article on about 10 lovable things about a brick & mortar store and shared them on Sat. Nov. 16th. Here's the link to The Pleasures of Buying a Book in a Brick & Mortar Blog Post.

This week I also finished An American Bride in Kabul by Phyllis Chesler. Look for a review next week.

So, how does your reading change in the winter? And how about your cooking? And speaking of cooking, do you ever use an eReader as your cookbook? For me, I so use an iPad sometimes with recipes that I'm using that are also on the internet. Hmmm, sounds like another good subject!

Happy reading… Suzanne

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Pleasures of Buying a Book… in a Brick & Mortar Store.

There's something special about picking up a book… To feel the heft of the book, to feel the texture of the pages, to crack the spine and read a sentence or two to get the feel for a book… That is what you get when you walk into a Brick & Mortar bookstore. That and more. Recently I read an article at about 10 Lovable things about Brick-and-Mortar bookstores, and I couldn't agree more. Here is the list…

1. The Sense of Community... You have a common bond with the people in that book store. The owners remember what you read if you are part of that community.

2. Staff Picks Yes, people who work at the bookstore share with you what they like! It's a great way to discover new books!

3. Author Events!… Have you ever met a favorite author at your online store? I guess not. I have met some great authors at these events! I remember meeting Mary Higgins Clark once and being thrilled because she was one of the first mystery writers I ever read.

4. The Cafe… Well, I can't say that I have a cafe at any of my indie bookstores, but I did use to enjoy sitting with a cup of hot cocoa at my local Borders and leafing through the pages of a book I was going to buy. But having a cafe is a wonderful way to relax with your books and other readers.

5. The Luxury of Browsing… I definitely love browsing books, and I've found some great books that way. I remember leafing through The Help by Kathryn Stockett because I liked the cover (the original cover).

6. Discoverability… I think this goes hand in hand with browsing and staff picks, but wandering a bookstore gives you the opportunity to discover things.

7. The Staff… Yes, most indie bookstores or "Brick & Mortar" have readers as staff. People who actually can recommend something based on your tastes.

8. The Nerdy Stuff that isn't books… If you're looking for a gift for a bookish person and want something other than a book, bookish totes, mugs, bookmarks etc. usually can be found in your local bookstore.

9. They are the Best Places to Spend Time… I use to hang out many a Saturday night at my local bookstore and loved it! Oh the hours…

10.That Bookstore Vibe… If you're a reader, this speaks for itself!

What other pleasures can YOU think of when you walk into your local Brick & Mortar bookstore? Besides supporting our communities, "Brick & Mortar Bookstores" support us and our love of reading!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Wild by Cherly Strayed… A Review.

The Pacific Crest Trail is 2663 miles long. It is a wilderness trail that stretches from the Mexican border in California all the way to the Canadian border. It passes through California, Oregon and Washington, various mountain ranges, lakes, watering holes, icy expanses, and all manor of woods. Sharing the wilderness trail are bears, coyotes, rattlesnakes and numerous other wild animals, and a few wild humans too.  It is beautiful and at the same time dangerous.

Cheryl Strayed was emotionally damaged. She had lost her Mother, lost her family essentially, loved her stepfather, but felt estranged from him as his life went forward after her Mother's death. She was divorcing a man she loved and she was out of control trying to move forward when she didn't have the strength. The PCT or The Pacific Crest Trail gave her that strength. It made her focus.

In what could be considered a crazy move, Cheryl decides to go on a 3 month hike on the PCT. Crazy because she didn't have the knowledge one should have about long distance hiking. She never even hiked much before the PCT trip. But she had nothing to lose. Underfunded and carrying too much of a load, with only a guidebook in hand, Cheryl sets out to hike over 1000 miles alone. This is an amazing story. This is her story.

What did I think? I absolutely loved this book! Cheryl's writing is gripping and honest. I was enthralled from the first page and had to keep turning those pages. I was emotionally and almost physically walking that trail with her. She made me feel what she was going through. I was sad, devastated, elated and rooting her on as she took me on that 3 month journey. Her thoughts went back to her "other life" at times, sharing with us her struggles that lead her to buy those hiking boots and start something fresh. Those moments of reflection were seamless and moved the story along wonderfully. And the story itself was written as though it were happening in the present, even though Cheryl didn't start writing Wild until years later.

I had heard about Wild when it was first published the summer of 2012. It had gotten good reviews, but I was a bit "memoir outed". When Wild was picked as one of World Book Night's 2014 selections, I decided I would pick it up. Maybe it's because of my own past struggles that Wild resonated with me, or maybe it was because Cheryl was a woman trying to prove her abilities to be independent & strong. As I read I wanted Cheryl to succeed, not only with her long distance hike, but the struggles she had with missing her Mother, wanting her family back,  and trying to forgive herself for decisions she had made in her past. When I finally turned that last page, I felt that satisfaction and disappointment of finishing a really good book. The adventure between these pages wasn't all milk & cookies, some of the story was hard to take at times, but I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a wonderfully written story full of heart. Part adventure, part inspirational, Wild is about life.

Wild is published by Vintage, a division of Random House and is available in Paperback , a Kindle Edition , and for Nook. If you're interested, click on the links to purchase Wild and read it for yourself!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Sunday Salon and Book picks for Veteran's Day

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....

That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book.

And since tomorrow is Veteran's Day, I thought we'd take a look at a few great books written about war. I'm not a big fan of "war" books, but there are stories that take you beyond the horrors of the fighting and show the human quality, a kind of behind the scenes look at war....

Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival by Mitchell Zuckoff... From the publisher: On November 5, 1942, a US cargo plane slammed into the Greenland Ice Cap. Four days later, the B-17 assigned to the search and rescue missue became lost in a blinding storm and also crashed. Miraculously, all nine men on the B-17 survived. With the weather worsening, the U.S. military launched a daring rescue mission, sending a Grumman Duck amphibious plane to find them. After picking up one member of the B-17 crew, the Duck flew into a severe storm, and the plane and the three men aboard vanished. In this thrilling, true-life adventure, Mitchell Zuckoff offers a spellbinding account of these harrowing crashes and the fate of the survivors and would-be saviors. He also recounts the efforts of a modern-day adventurer, Lou Sapienza, who worked for years with the Coast Guard and Commander Jim Blow to solve the mystery of the Duck’s last flight and recover the remains of its crew.

It amazes me sometimes the stories you never hear about until someone decides to write a book. I had never heard of this crash in this frozen wasteland, but I am so intrigued. That and the fact that the conditions were so harrowing that one rescue mission crashed and the other disappeared entirely makes this even more mysterious, and makes me want to read about what happened. This is on my TBR list! Published by Harper Collins this past April, Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival is available in HardcoverKindle Edition and Nook Book.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand... From the publisher: On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War. The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

Laura Hillenbrand is a fabulous writer. I absolutely LOVED her book Seabiscuit, which told the story of the racehorse with a heart, Seabiscuit, and the behind the scenes look at horse racing, which I could have cared less about, but once I opened that book I could not put it down and it still remains one of my favorite books today. Her WWII story, Unbroken, has gotten rave reviews and again tells one story that may have remained unknown to us had not someone decided to share it. This is on my TBR list. It was published in 2010 by Random House and is available in HardcoverKindle Edition and Nook book.

Night by Elie Wiesel... from the publisher: A candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of Elie Wiesel's survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man’s capacity for inhumanity to man. Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.

Elie Wiesel's Night is a slim 148 pages, but it's not the length of the book, but the impact that the words contained in this account of being in a Nazi death camp that have made this an important piece of literature. Originally published in 2006, there is now a new translation offered in the newest edition from Macmillan, available in Paperback , Kindle Edition and Nook Book.

If you're looking for fiction, don't forget Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally, a novel based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German industralist who saved more than 1000 Jews from the Nazi death camps.

**UPDATE...Fellow book blogger Booksync, who has a wonderful blog called Books in The City, shared You Know When The Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon as a recommendation for Veteran's Day reads. She writes,  "it is a collection of short stories each about life on the base when men are away fighting or just after they return. It was a really interesting perspective on the sacrifices military families make in addition to the soldier." Thank you Booksync for the recommendation! On Amazon it has earned 4 1/2 stars from over 100 reviews! Here are the links for the Paperback , Kindle Edition , and the Nook book.

Weekly Recap... This week on Chick with Books, for Memoir Monday we highlighted An American Bride in Kabul by Phyllis Chesler. The harrowing true account of falling in love and being whisked off to a foreign country, and suffering from the cultural differences. If you missed it, Here is the Link to read all about it.

And then on Thursday I put up the video made by about three dozen authors attending the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show in New Orleans. the authors all read from Lane Smith's children's book, It's a Book, and then through the magic of editing, they put it all together so that each author was reading parts of the book as we followed along. Lane Smith's book is wonderful. It's a simple book about the beauty of an actual book with three friends, a Jackass, a mouse and a monkey. Jackass is internet savvy and can't quite understand how a book works, but eventually Monkey straightens him out. To watch the video, click on this link.

Book News... If you haven't heard, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is coming to the big screen! Keep your eyes open for the release in your area this month! The previews look wonderful! And the book? Well, the book was great! Here's the synopsis from School Library Journal...

"Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. The child arrives having just stolen her first book–although she has not yet learned how to read–and her foster father uses it, The Gravediggers Handbook, to lull her to sleep when shes roused by regular nightmares about her younger brothers death. Across the ensuing years of the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Liesel collects more stolen books as well as a peculiar set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayors reclusive wife (who has a whole library from which she allows Liesel to steal), and especially her foster parents. Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesels story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves." –Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA

*KINDLE BARGAIN BOOK ALERT... If you haven't read the The Book Thief yet, you should! Right now, it's available on Kindle for just $2.90! Here is the link to The Book Thief to grab that bargain price! 

Do you enjoy books on war? Fiction or nonfiction? Hope you enjoy the book selections this week! And to all of our Veterans... Thank you for your service!

Happy Reading... Suzanne

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"It's a Book... "

To support print books and indie bookstores, approximately three dozen authors attending the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show in New Orleans this fall teamed up to make an entertaining video in which they read aloud from Lane Smith's It's a Book. SIBA devised the project, supported by Smith and her publisher, Macmillan.... This is Great!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

Memoir Monday & An American Bride in Kabul by Phyllis Chesler

Memoir Monday returns with a book that drops us into the heart of Afghanistan and in the life of a new bride. This bride is American though and Jewish as well. It is not simply a memoir of a young woman who falls in love and discovers afterwards the cultural differences that exist between her and her husband's family, An American Bride in Kabul is about the rights of women. Phyllis Chesler is a fierce supporter of women's rights, especially in Afghanistan, the Country where she once was captive. After 50 years, she has finally written her account of her marriage and life in Kabul.

An American Bride in Kabul by Phyllis Chesler... From the author's website: The dramatic, riveting, and timely tale of how one woman's harrowing ordeal in a harem in Afghanistan shaped her into a modern feminist leader and life-long defender of human rights. Eighteen years old and in love, Phyllis Chesler, a Jewish-American girl from Brooklyn, embarked on a passionate love affair with a glamorous foreign student, which led Chesler to her destiny and nearly to her death in Kabul —and to a journey which has lasted for more than half a century. Upon arrival, Afghan authorities seized her American passport, and Chesler found herself trapped as the property of her husband's polygamous family, without an ally and without any rights. Despite her seclusion, her mother-in-law's campaign to convert her from Judaism to Islam, and her husband's wish to permanently tie her to the country through childbirth, she escaped. Yet these lovers, a Muslim and a Jew, have remained connected ever since. Chesler draws upon personal diaries, correspondence, memories, and research in this vivid and eye-opening account of what she learned about central Asia and the nature of gender apartheid. Though she nearly died in Afghanistan, Phyllis nostalgically recreates this beautiful, ancient, and exotic culture and country, including its Buddhist and Jewish history. An American Bride in Kabul is the story of how a na├»ve American girl learned to see the world through eastern as well as western eyes. She re-creates a time gone by, a place that is no more, and shares the way in which Chesler turned adversity into a passion for freedom and women's rights.

This is not the first American woman to discover the cultural differences in a country new to her, but Phyllis Chesler's story puts us in the heart of these differences as a young bride dealing not only with her new Country, but her new family and what is expected of her, in what seems to be a total turnaround from the loving relationship she had with her new bridegroom. And even with all that had happened between them, the relationship between the author and her ex still seems to exist. I look forward to reading An American Bride in Kabul to learn how this woman survives her ordeal, but also to learn more about the culture of the country that Phllis Chesler also shares in her account. This book was released in early October by Palgrave Macmillan, and is available in Hardcover , Kindle and Nook Book.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Sunday Salon and Wonderful Children's Books

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! It's that time of the week we all get to kick back and relax and talk about books! So, grab a cup of joe and find a comfy chair and let's talk books. And this week it's children's books. I love children's books. A simple story with beautiful illustrations just blows me away sometimes. Even though I have no children, I can appreciate the beauty and artistry that goes into some of these wonderful books. As adults we can find meaning in some of these children's books that hit a chord with our own lives. Sometimes the story can be silly, with humor that we can appreciate as adults, sometimes the story can make us pause to look at the world around us. In my travels this week, I came upon 3 books that I thought were simply wonderful...

Paul Meets Bernadette by Rosy Lamb... "Paul is a fish who used to go around in circles. He made big circles and little circles. He circled from left to right and from right to left. He circled from top to bottom and from bottom to top. What else was there to do? Until one day Bernadette drops in and shows Paul that there is a whole world out there, right outside his bowl, with so many things to see. A banana-shaped boat! A blue elephant with a spoutlike trunk (be quiet when she’s feeding her babies)! A lovely lunetta butterfly, with tortoise-shell rims! Simple saturated paintings play off this charming ode to an active imagination — and the way that life changes when a bewitching creature opens your eyes."

This book has gotten a lot of praise from it's wonderful story to the beautiful simple paintings that Rosy Lamb has created to go along it. Teaching children the power of imagination,  I'm sure if we open our eyes that we too can re-imagine the world in all it's beauty. Published by Candlewick, this book will be released Dec. 10th! And can be pre-ordered in Hardcover .

Once Upon a Memory by Nina Laden... Does a feather remember it once was a bird? Does a book remember it once was a word? When a feather drifts through a child's window, a magical journey begins. As the boy follows the feather, he is swept away to a world filled with adorable animals, where fantasy and reality come together in surprising and playful ways. From the cake that once was grain to the ocean that once was rain, whimsical "before" and "after" scenes offer readers a peek at the world as seen through the eyes of a curious child, ultimately asking the question, "What will you remember?"

The words to this story, a poem in reality, just stuck me as thought-provoking and beautiful. Do we really pay attention to the things around us and reflect on their origins? I think maybe not enough, but this wonderful book nudges us in the right direction to ponder the wonders all around us. This book has garnered a lot of great reviews and has a starred review in Publisher's Weekly to boot. Once Upon a Memory will be available in Hardcover on Dec. 3rd! And is available for pre-order.

Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella by Jan Brett...  Tasha feeds her flock in the old tower and falls asleep on a bed of straw.  So begins a magical night...  In Jan Brett's version of a favorite fairy tale, Cinders is pushed around by her comical sisters, Pecky and Bossy, and their haughty mother, Largessa. This night the chickens fly off to Prince Cockerel's Ice Palace.   All except poor Cinders until a Silkie flies in with her magic wand and transforms the little hen into a beautiful and mysterious guest at the ball.  Fanciful illustrations capture the grandeur of eighteenth-century Russia while Jan's chicken characters provide the fun and romance that she brings to the Cinderella story. Jan traveled to Russia and readers will be in awe of the Ice Palace aglow under a deep blue moonlit sky, exquisite ball gowns on the comely pullets, uniforms with gold braids and buttons on the cockerels, striking Russian architecture transformed into ice in the borders, and a very funny flock of chickens who provide an appealing, original look at this snowy Cinderella. 

I love Jan Brett's beautiful illustrations in her many books. This story should be no exception. And the story should be just plain fun! Of course being a "Chick with Books", I'm a bit partial to "Chick" books and this just was calling my name. Not just a wonderful take on a fairy tale we are all familiar with, but a beautiful wintry tale as well that would make a great gift book during the snowy season. Published by Putnam for Young Readers, Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella is being released this tuesday, Nov. 5th! It will be available in Hardcover AND for Kindle as well!

The Week in Review...

Tuesday Oct. 29th I posted New Releases that are meant to inspire you! Including a new book by Richard Paul Evans. In case you missed them, here is the link!

For Halloween, I posted that famous Halloween poem, The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. Here's the link!

And on Friday, Nov. 1st, I reviewed The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-mi Hwang. It's a modern classic tale translated from Korean for the first time. It has been on the best seller list in South Korea for a decade and now we in the Unites States have a chance to enjoy it. I really enjoyed it. Here is the link to read the review.

This week in reading...

Well, I started reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and I am hooked! And I downloaded Wild by Cheryl Strayed, which I am almost done with and have enjoyed in a different kind of way. Cheryl's writing is wonderful, but she's draws me into her world so much that I am really feeling a roller coaster of emotions as she hikes the Pacific Coast Trail reflecting back on losing her Mother, screwing up her marriage and hitting the lowest of the low in her life. I decided to read it because I've heard so many great reviews and it was also one of the World Book Night choices. Look for a review coming soon.

My reading group has chosen The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman  as this months pick. What's it about? Here's a bit from the publisher...  Tom Sherbourne is a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a tiny island a half day’s boat journey from the coast of Western Australia. When a baby washes up in a rowboat, he and his young wife Isabel decide to raise the child as their own. The baby seems like a gift from God, and the couple’s reasoning for keeping her seduces the reader into entering the waters of treacherous morality. A good book choice for a reading group is one that has potential for a good discussion, and The Light Between Oceans seems to fit that mark. I'll let you know how how the group enjoyed it next month.

So, how was your reading week?! What do you think about children's books? Can we as adults enjoy them too?

Happy reading... Suzanne

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-mi Hwang… A Review

A hen full of pluck, dreams from her cramped little corner of the world of the freedom she see's beyond her egg laying coop. She wants to wander the barnyard like the other animals, she wants to hatch one of the eggs that are swiftly taken away from her, she wants to live...

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-mi Hwang, is a modern classic tale translated from her native Korean by Chi-Young Kim. A simple but moving tale about friendship & sacrifice, about motherhood & acceptance. All told through the eyes and heart of a spunky little hen named Sprout. 

Here's the description from the publisher... Sprout is a hen forced to live out her days in captivity on an industrial egg farm. More than anything, Sprout longs for the freedom to hatch a baby chick of her own and is heartbroken as, each morning, she must give up her eggs to the farmer’s wife... After Sprout escapes into the wild, she discovers an unprotected egg with mysterious origins. With a fierce maternal instinct, Sprout takes the egg under her own protection in the hopes that it will one day hatch. She also befriends Straggler, a wild duck who, like her, hasn’t quite found his place in the world. Both Sprout and Straggler find themselves defending against the elements, the antagonism of other barnyard animals, and the sly one-eyed weasel who is always in search of his next meal. Throughout it all, Sprout is the plucky, indefatigable heroine of the story, who must eventually come to terms with the immense sacrifices of being a mother.

A wonderful gem of a book! A heartfelt tale that will speak to your sole. It is a simple story, but thought-provoking. What does it mean to be a Mother? What does it mean to be a true friend? How far would you go to be accepted? The story could be a children's fable, but it is so much more than that. Dealing with the cycles of life, the meaning of life and how we choose to live it - should you follow your dreams? I was rooting for Sprout all the way, even in the end when she made the ultimate choice. I felt her yearning and her commitment. I struggled with her choices. It was easy to empathize with her fully realized character,  almost forgetting she was a hen. And does she ultimately fly? You'll have to read The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly to find out! There's also a twist in the story about that one-eyed weasel too, that may make you torn in the end. 

Dreams and passions; Love and acceptance; Sacrifice without prejudice; The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly is a wonderful story that will wrap you under it's wing and soothe your restless soul. I love stories from other countries, it's like seeing a different version of the same world. This has sold two million copies in Korea and has been on the best seller list there for over a decade. This is the first English language edition, and will be available at your local bookstore, tuesday November 26th! Here's a link to the Paperback and The Kindle Version .

I want to thank Penguin Books for access to the galley of The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!
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