Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On the Island

On the Island  By Tracey Garvis Graves     Anna, a thirty year old teacher from Chicago is hired by the Callahan family to tutor TJ for the summer. TJ is in remission and having missed most of the 10th grade he needs to catch up with his classmates. As TJ and Anna's plane approaches the remote island home his parents have rented for the summer, a fateful accident occurs leaving TJ and Anna alone on an uninhabited island. Fighting for their health, safety and sanity, TJ and Anna battle the elements to stay strong while their feelings and emotions towards each other grows into a beautiful friendship. This wonderful story is a simple one of love, friendship and dreams with a little bit of survivor, a dash of fifty shades and a reminder of the blue lagoon. It is that wonderful chick lit romance, tears, smiles and all over fuzzy feeling. I adored this story and read it in one day. If you long to escape if only for a short while, this is it. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Last Runaway

The Last Runaway  By Tracy Chevalier      Honor Bright arrives in Ohio in 1850. She settles in a small Quaker community called Faithwell. After traveling from England and suffering horrific sickness throughout her journey her real pain is caused when Honor loses her sister to yellow fever. She is 20, she is on her own in a strange new land. Honor is a quiet girl who finds her solace and is much admired for sewing beautiful quilts. She has an unlikely friendship with an outspoken milliner, Belle, a strange and steamy acquaintance with Belle's brother Donovan and a deep strong belief, as Quakers do, that slavery should not exist. Similar to The Kitchen House, The Help and Someone Knows My Name, a perfect read for Black History Month. I learned much, loved the characters and highly recommend this excellent novel by a superb author!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Yes, Chef

Yes, Chef By Marcus Samuelsson     The idea of celebrity chef is a fairly new phenomena in our culture. Famous chefs have longtime existed. In small circles of foodies their names are often revered. Today chefs are a household name due in large part to cooking competition television shows. The words Yes, Chef mean something even if you have never worked in a restaurant. Marcus Samuelsson was three years old when he and his sister were orphaned in Ethiopia and adopted by a loving Swedish family. He grew up in a small Swedish village and a lifelong love of cooking was born as he helped his grandmother Helga in her small kitchen. This memoir follows Marcus on his journey through his life in Sweden, how he finds his way to food, culinary school and the restaurant business. The writing is heartfelt and entertaining. This author speaks from the heart on all matters regarding love, family, the color of our skin and every morsel we put in our mouth. Highly recommend this terrific read! Bon Appetit.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Secret Keeper

The Secret Keeper By Kate Morton     As Dorothy's life is nearing the end, her adoring daughters and son reminisce their younger days and attribute it to the mother wonderful Dorothy has been. Laurel, the eldest and a famous actress, is reminded of a tragic incident she witnessed as a teenager and her siblings were much too young to remember. A strange man at the farmhouse, a knife, a murder, and a string of memories that have been buried in the back of her mind for fifty years. Laurel decides the time has come and she must know, she needs to understand how this violent event occurred while her mother has been the most loving adoring of souls to her family, friends and neighbors for all of these years. Her investigation begins as the chapters skip back and forth from 1941 England during the Blitz to 2011. This story pulls the reader into the characters lives, as it twists and turns it becomes less predictable and I happily found myself racing to the end to see what would happen next. A well written saga revealing what can transpire when people try to protect their loved ones by keeping the secrets.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Little Bride

The Little Bride  By Anna Solomon       Minna,  sixteen years old, is a struggling Jewish orphan in Odessa during the late 18oo's. Her mother ran off, her father dies and she found herself work as a maid for an older woman named Galina who is out of her mind. Minna desperately wants a family, a place she can call home and a new life. She finds herself applying to become a mail order bride to a Jewish man in America. Not mature enough to think this through, Minna feels it is her only option of escape from the orphaned life she leads and the pogroms that fill the Jewish community with fear constantly. She travels to America by ship and goes to live in South Dakota to marry Max, live in a mudlike hut and act as mother to her new stepsons, close to her own age, Jacob and Samuel. Minna desperately tries to stay focused on the goal, which is to be part of a real family. Difficulties quickly surmount during brutal, suffocatingly lonely, harsh winters and an underlying attraction to the eldest son, Samuel. A unique story. For all the historical fiction I have enjoyed I did not know of Jews homesteading in the American West, the movement called Am Olam. Characters are most definitely odd but the writing is excellent, descriptive and heartfelt. I recommend this story and would be interested to read this author again.