Our Bookish Christmas…

Happy New Year or New Year’s Eve everyone! I can’t believe it’s going to be 2019. Time is flying, but I’m still not letting go of Christmas yet. I thought it would be fun to share some of the books we received for Christmas this year.

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Personally, I didn’t receive books as gifts this year, but I did purchase one other book for myself besides the Penguin Classics Christmas set I mentioned last week. I went ahead and took a chance on, We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter.

Continue reading “Our Bookish Christmas…”

ARC Book Review: The Den by Abi Maxwell #TheDen #WomensFiction #BookReview

The Den

by Abi Maxwell

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From Goodreads:

A luminous, hypnotic story of youth, sex, and power that tells of two young women who find themselves ostracized from the same small New England community for the same reasons–though they are separated by 150 years.

Henrietta and Jane are fifteen and twelve, growing up in a farmhouse on the outskirts of town. Their mother is a painter, lost in her art, their father a cook who’s raised them on magical tales about their land. When Henrietta becomes obsessed with a boy from town, Jane takes to trailing the young couple, spying on their trysts–until one night, Henrietta vanishes into the woods. Elspeth and Claire are sisters separated by an ocean–Elspeth’s pregnancy at seventeen meant she was quickly married and sent to America to avoid certain shame. But when she begins ingratiating herself to the town’s wealthy mill owner, a series of wrenching and violent events unfold, culminating in her disappearance. As Jane and Claire search in their own times for their missing sisters, they each come across a strange story about a family that is transformed into coyotes. But what does this myth mean? Are their sisters dead, destroyed by men and lust? Or, are they alive and thriving beyond the watchful eyes of their same small town? With echoes of The Scarlet Letter, Abi Maxwell gives us a transporting, layered tale of two women, living generations apart yet connected by place and longing, and condemned for the very same desires.

Continue reading “ARC Book Review: The Den by Abi Maxwell #TheDen #WomensFiction #BookReview”

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A. McLellan | Book Review | Author Interview | Signed Giveaway Including a $25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card! #HistFic #BookReview #Giveaway #Fiction

HiIn the Shadow of the Hanging Tree

by Michael A. McLellan

From Goodreads:

In 1865 a shadow hovers over the nation: the shadow lingers still…

Born into slavery, Henry’s young life is spent working in tobacco drying sheds on Missouri plantations. Freed at the onset of the Civil War, he’s alone, starving, and on the run from Confederate militiamen.

Five years later, Clara Hanfield, the daughter of a powerful New York shipping magnate, escapes her tyrannical father and travels west in pursuit of John Elliot, the man she loves. John, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was sent to the Dakota Territory where he discovers a government conspiracy to incite an all-out war with the Indians; a war meant to finally eliminate them as an obstacle to the westward expansion.

Henry finds himself caught in the middle.

Aided by Clara, John, and his native ally, Standing Elk, Henry must battle hatred, greed, and the ghosts of his past during this turbulent and troubling time in American history.

Continue reading “In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A. McLellan | Book Review | Author Interview | Signed Giveaway Including a $25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card! #HistFic #BookReview #Giveaway #Fiction”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book: Spaghetti Squash – In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A. McLellan

Hello everyone! I hope you’re all doing well this week. It’s hard to believe we are in the middle of May already. Time is flying this year! I’m sorry I haven’t been doing many Breakfast and a Book posts lately, but life has been a little crazy. I hope to pick back up with more of these during the summer when I have a little more time in the mornings.

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I’ve had this recipe in mind for some time now. I cook it often, but the difference now is that I don’t have it with eggs like I used to. For breakfast, this can be served with fried eggs or scrambled eggs mixed in. Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book: Spaghetti Squash – In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A. McLellan”

Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein by Jennifer Roy and Ali Fadhil- Book Review

Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story

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Blurb from Goodreads: At the start of 1991, eleven-year-old Ali Fadhil was consumed by his love for soccer, video games, and American television shows. Then, on January 17, Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein went to war with thirty-four nations lead by the United States.

Over the next forty-three days, Ali and his family survived bombings, food shortages, and constant fear. Ali and his brothers played soccer on the abandoned streets of their Basra neighborhood, wondering when or if their medic father would return from the war front. Cinematic, accessible, and timely, this is the story of one ordinary kid’s view of life during war.

Continue reading “Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein by Jennifer Roy and Ali Fadhil- Book Review”

Shabby Sunday: Demelza (Poldark #2) by Winston Graham – 1977

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Shabby Sunday

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.

Today’s Shabby Share is:

Demelza (The Poldark Saga #2)

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Summary: Ross Poldark had returned from the war in the American colonies filled with a bold vision which made him a stranger to the elegant and delicately-bred society which had nurtured him. His marriage to Demelza, the fiery young vixen from the basest ranks of the poor, had inflamed the antagonism of those who had once been his friends.

But for Demelza it meant a crueler and more bitter struggle than any she had ever known. Side by side with the man she loved, she fought for the passion that united them and for the future of the child she was to bear…-Goodreads

My Thoughts:

This is one of my favorites out of all the Poldark books. In this installment, Ross Poldark and Demelza are now happily married and giving birth to their first child, Julia. She struggles with the marriage because there are great challenges including Elizabeth’s shadow over Ross. Even though Elizabeth is married to Francis, she will never forget that Ross once loved her and she’s determined to create the best marriage and life possible with him, to win his true love. Demelza’s character matures and grows as she becomes more confident in society and she proves herself to Ross and everyone else equally.

Much happens in this installment with the birth of Julia and also Demelza’s persistence with getting Verity coupled with Captain Blamey. She knows that Verity deserves to have a life of love–like everyone else–even if it’s against the family’s wishes. Ross spends much time away from home and deals with his business ventures. The drama between the Warleggans’ and the Poldarks’ ensues…

“George stared across the street. ‘There is only one trouble with the Poldarks,’ he said after a moment. ‘They cannot take a beating.’
‘And only one trouble with the Warleggans,’ said Ross. ‘They never know when they are not wanted.’
George’s color deepened. ‘But they can appreciate and remember an insult.’
‘Well, I trust you will remember this one.’ Ross turned his back and went down the steps into the tavern.” 

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I love all the primary and secondary characters in this series! They’re well developed and all the books are full of scenes that keep you reading until the last page. I love the world Winston Graham created and all the drama to go with it including the love, jealously, murder, crime, death, grief, and hate. There’s so much going on here and in just one novel.

I admire my edition of Demelza because it was published during my year of birth and I think the cover is very interesting. Even though I don’t like small paperbacks that much, I made an exception with this one because it matches my set. The pages are faded a bit, but it’s in fairly decent shape for its age at forty years.

 

5*****
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Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Demelza (Poldark #2) by Winston Graham – 1977”

One For Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn: Book Review #NGEW2018 #3

One for Sorrow

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Blurb: Against the ominous backdrop of the influenza epidemic of 1918, Annie, a new girl at school, is claimed as best friend by Elsie, a classmate who is a tattletale, a liar, and a thief. Soon Annie makes other friends and finds herself joining them in teasing and tormenting Elsie. Elsie dies from influenza, but then she returns to reclaim Annie’s friendship and punish all the girls who bullied her. Young readers who revel in spooky stories will relish this chilling tale of a girl haunted by a vengeful ghost.

My Thoughts:

One For Sorrow is a middle grade, chilling ghost story. It takes place around 1918 during the deadliest influenza pandemic that killed millions of people.

Annie Browne has just moved to a new town with her mother and father. She’s a bit timid and she’s nervous about making friends at her new school, the Pearce Academy for Girls. The first girl she meets is Elsie, and Elsie doesn’t waste any time filling her in on how horrible the girls at Pearce are. None of the girls like Elsie and she convinces Annie that they won’t like her either. Every day, Annie can’t seem to get away from Elsie as she’s consistently holding her hand and inviting herself over to her house. She tells everyone that Annie is her best friend and because of this, nobody else wants anything to do with Annie. They begin making fun of her too and Annie becomes miserable. Elsie is bossy, pushy, and just not fun to be around. Annie can’t even seem to convince her parents that there’s something not right about Elsie. She has to find away to get away from her.

One day, Elsie doesn’t show up for school and Annie finally gets a chance to gain the friendship of some of the other girls, especially Rosie, the most popular. She becomes friends with the very group of girls that hate Elsie, including Rosie. A few more days pass and Annie wonders how Elsie will take the news when she returns. Will she be mad at Annie or will they stay friends? Will Annie take on the same bullying behaviors her classmates have bestowed on Elsie?

I just have to say–I couldn’t put this book down. From start to finish, the narrative had me completely enthralled. I had to know how this story would end and what would come of Annie. The characters are well developed and the book is written well with perfect pacing. There’s just enough to keep you turning page after page. I also loved the mention of multiple classic books by Charles Dickens and Lucy Maud Montgomery to name a few.

With that said, I was disturbed and uncomfortable at times.  I found this middle grade book a bit scary and Elsie pretty much drove me crazy from the start. It’s known that Elsie has demons from her past, some that she hasn’t been able to exterminate, which makes her very unstable and evil at times. It was almost more than I could bear. Rosie was also difficult to deal with. She’s very cruel and tends to cause problems by calling names and bullying others by chasing them. She’s pretty wound up, yet interesting. Some of the girls realize that what Rosie’s doing is wrong, but many of them keep their mouths shut because they don’t want to deal with the repercussions from her and they want her to remain their friend. They feel pressured to join in and all the while, the teacher doesn’t seem to be on top of things and doesn’t do anything to put a stop to the behaviors besides making simple commands like, “I won’t tolerate this behavior.” It’s really annoying. While all of this is happening, the flu of 1918 is making rounds. People are dying left and right. Everyone fears that they’ll be taken next, but who will it be?

Overall, I think this is a 5-star read that I highly recommend. It kept me interested from start to finish and I was really pleased with the ending. The Afterword was such a nice addition because the author explains where she got some of the ideas for the story which are inspired by true events. I’m excited to check out some other books by Mary Downing Hahn as this was my first.

Thanks to Netgalley for sharing a copy of One For Sorrow in exchange for a review.

5*****


  • Age Range: 10 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 – 7
  • Lexile Measure: 660 (What’s this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books (July 18, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0544818091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0544818095

Find it on Goodreads and Amazon


Continue reading “One For Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn: Book Review #NGEW2018 #3”

Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa Book Review – Plus How to Make Dorayaki!

Earlier this year I came across a book on Goodreads titled Sweet Bean Paste which was recently translated into English. I added it right away and then received a tip from a Goodread’s friend and fellow book blogger Evelina@ Avalinahsbooks that it was available on Edelweiss. Luckily, I was approved for it, because it turned out to be one of my favorite books of the year.

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Sweet Bean Paste

by Durian SukegawaAlison Watts

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The story begins with Sentaro, a man who was previously in jail and is now working in a little confectionary shop to pay off some debt. He makes a Japanese sweet called ‘dorayaki’ every day but puts no heart into it at all. He works in a depressed part of town and feels quite depressed himself. He doesn’t have much appreciation for life while spending most evenings drowning his sorrows with alcohol. He’s always wanted to be a writer, but just doesn’t know what his purpose in life is at this point.

One day, he puts an ad out for a helper. A little old lady named Tokue comes to visit Sentaro and begins to chat about his red bean paste. She wants the job, but Sentaro is hesitant to hire her because there are differences in Tokue’s appearance which set hjer apart from other people. Her fingers are disfigured, but after Sentaro tastes some of her sweet bean paste, he begins to question in his mind how he can hire her without offending customers because her sweet, rich bean paste is like nothing he’s ever tasted, and he has to learn how to make it. As time moves on, Tokue becomes part of the shop and enjoys meeting with some of the customers until a rumor starts and people become afraid of something they don’t truly understand.

I loved the characters and cherished Tokue’s wisdom. Besides teaching Sentaro how to make the best bean paste, she helps him on his journey of self-discovery and teaches him how to truly listen and to be patient.

“We were born in order to see and listen to the world.”

Reading about Tokue’s harrowing past was difficult, yet the unlikely friendships formed between this small group of people is heartwarming. Each of them has something to give one another and as they connect, Sentaro finally begins to see the light from Tokue’s teachings.

After reading the book, I sat for awhile and reflected on Tokue’s suggestions to Sentaro and found the book very educational because of it–from her messages about listening and seeing to also learning about Hansen’s disease in Japanese history. I absolutely adored reading this wonderful book and appreciated the author’s note at the end which explains the author’s experience with Hansen’s disease and the inspiration for this story. This is a book anyone can enjoy and I highly recommend it. My rating is 5*****

I’d like to thank Edelweiss, the publisher, and the author for sharing a copy of this book with me in exchange for an honest review.

5 Sterne

Find this book on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (November 14, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1786071959
  • ISBN-13: 978-1786071958

I was so excited to learn that this book has been adapted to film and it’s available on Netflix. I haven’t watched it yet, but plan to this weekend and I’ll share my thoughts after. Here’s the trailer…


All this reading about Dorayaki and sweet bean paste really sparked my interest. I’d never had dorayaki or even heard of it. I went straight to Amazon and ordered some adzuki beans so that I could experience this Japanese treat with my family.

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What is dorayaki?

Dorayaki (どら焼き, どらやき, 銅鑼焼き, ドラ焼き) is a type of Japanese confection, а red-bean pancake which consists of two small pancake-like patties made from castella wrapped around a filling of sweet Azuki red bean paste.


Making Dorayaki

The first thing I did was soak the beans. I put about a cup of adzuki beans in a jar with water and let them soak overnight. I rinsed them once before and then again in the morning.

 

I decided to make the paste first. I started by putting the beans in the pan with water to cover and brought them to a boil and boiled them for a few minutes. Then I rinsed them completely. I put them back in the pan again with plenty of water to cover and brought them to a boil again. This time, I let them simmer for about an hour until they were soft.

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Once they were soft, I drained the water and blended them up in my Vitamix.

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I blended them until fairly smooth.

Next, I added the paste back to the pan with a heaping half cup of sugar. I stirred it and cooked this down for about five minutes on low heat.

 

I ended up with a nice smooth paste that was thick and not runny.

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Continue reading “Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa Book Review – Plus How to Make Dorayaki!”

Shabby Sunday: Poldark by Winston Graham – 1977

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Today is my 6th Shabby Sunday! To see all the Shabby Sunday books that I’ve chosen, please click on ‘Shabby Sunday’ under categories.


Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then, I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


 

Today’s shabby share is:

Poldark

by Winston Graham

 

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Blurb: A gorgeous new release of the heartwarming and hilarious first novel in the Poldark series, the subject of the landmark BBC series

Ross Poldark is a heartwarming, gripping, and utterly entertaining saga that brings to life an unforgettable cast of characters and one of the greatest love stories of our age.

Ross Poldark returns to Cornwall from war, looking forward to a joyful homecoming with his family and his beloved Elizabeth. But instead he discovers that his father has died, his home is overrun by livestock and drunken servants, and Elizabeth, having believed Ross dead, is now engaged to his cousin. Ross must start over, building a completely new path for his life, one that takes him in exciting and unexpected directions . . .

Thus begins an intricately plotted story spanning loves, lives, and generations. The Poldark series is the masterwork of Winston Graham, who evoked the period and people like only he could, and created a world of rich and poor, loss and love, that readers will not soon forget.

I chose this book because I love the entire saga and my Poldark edition is 40 years old! The actual publication date of Poldark is 1945.


My Thoughts:

It’s 1783, and Ross Poldark is returning home after fighting in the American Revolutionary War. When he arrives he learns that his father is dead, his copper mine is failing, and his sweetheart Elizabeth, whom he loves, is engaged to his cousin Francis. Not only that, but the servants haven’t been keeping up with the estate, and it’s in shambles. His joyful homecoming is crushed and everything is a mess with chickens scattered around in his living room.

 

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Nampara

 

Ross plans to get back on his feet again, but his finances are a mess and he struggles to fit back into society. The future is looking fairly grim. He meets a fourteen-year-old girl named Demelza, rescues her from her abusive father, and gives her a job as a kitchen maid at Nampara where he resides. As time moves on, Demelza grows up into a beautiful young woman, their relationship changes, and they get married against everyone’s wishes. There’s hardly a single soul who approves of their marriage and Demelza will have to prove that she’s a worthy wife. Not only does she struggle with society, she struggles with herself because she knows Ross still loves Elizabeth and Demelza is the one who wants to be number one in Ross’s life.

 

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The book is full of memorable characters with Demelza being my favorite. Winston Graham has a way of making the wind, sea, weather, and landscape connect to the feelings of the characters and the imagery of Cornwall pulls you in with all the vivid details.

“He felt he would like one more look at the sea, which even now was licking at the rocks behind the house. He had no sentimental notions about the sea; he had no regard for its dangers or its beauties; to him it was a close acquaintance whose every virtue and failing, every smile and tantrum he had come to understand.” 

The book started off slow for me, but once I got into the story I loved it and couldn’t wait to read the other books in the series. I ended up reading every single book in The Poldark Saga and highly recommend it to all that enjoy reading historical fiction.

 My rating on this is 5*****

5 Sterne

Add it on Goodreads or find this edition on Amazon

You can find many editions of this series on Amazon, eBay, and many other sites.

  • Mass Market Paperback: 347 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Ballantine Books Edition edition (April 12, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345256549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345256546

Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Poldark by Winston Graham – 1977”