Monday, April 22, 2013

Book Review -- Because of Winn-Dixie

Because of Winn-DixieBecause of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book hangover rating:  3 of 5 stars
Source:  Library Copy
Genre:  Juvenile Fiction (Newbery Honor)
Objectionable material:  none

I hate dogs. My kids will be forever scarred because we do not have a pet.

However, if they came home with a dog like Winn-Dixie – I would totally reconsider.

10 year old Opal is lucky enough to encounter Winn Dixie at, well, the local Winn Dixie.

Forever after, the two are inseparable.

This is a delightful tale of a girl and her dog and the friends she meets along the way.

Opal is a bit like Scout and a bit like Julia (from The One and Only Ivan) – a spunky girl, without a mother, who navigates childhood the best she can, with independence and zest and the companionship of an animal.

I’m particularly interested in this book because Duncan Sheik (Tony & Grammy award winner for Spring Awakening) will be directing Because of Winn Dixie – the Musical this December at Arkansas Repertory Theatre. Taran, an Irish Wolf hound, has already been cast and is in training to make his stage debut as Winn Dixie.
I'm secretly hoping I Kate DiCamillo will be at the world premier and I can meet her!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Happy 10th Anniversary Big Love Book Club!

10 years.

I started this book club when I was 8 months pregnant with my 2nd child.  I did it for my sanity.  For my salvation.  For my soul.

It started with postcards. Not Evite or Facebook or Twitter or email.  Postcards with stamps sent to a group of women who I thought may be interested in sharing my love of reading.  A group of 10 (I think?) showed up at my house.  We read To Kill a Mockingbird. 

I had no idea it would last 10 years – or that we would be living in the same place for that long.

In that time over 50 women have read, discussed, laughed, indulged, cried with us.  One of our members died.

Has book group had any long lasting effect on any of these women?  I can’t say. 

All I know is, on the 3rd Thursday of each month – there is no place that I would rather be than at book club.

April Book Club -- My Cousin Rachel

My Cousin RachelMy Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
My book hangover rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source:  Personal copy
Genre:  Classic fiction; mystery
Objectionable material: None
April Book Club choice
My Cousin Rachel…the original Gone Girl.

Rachel Ashley has buried 2 husbands…now she is after the wealth and trinkets of her deceased husband’s cousin…or is she?

Daphne du Maurier does what no other author can do – keep you guessing until the very last word.

She creates tension, doubt, atmosphere, and character tone that changes instantly.

More than once I wanted to vocally scream at the page – “Philip Ashley – are you crazy? What are you doing?” How many authors have the literary power to evoke such audible emotions?

This was a psychological thriller, with the beauty of a Cornish estate. Or possibly…Gone Girl meets Downton Abbey.

Final word of caution…be wary of your house guests and their tea.
May Book Club choice:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Review -- The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

The Evolution of Calpurnia TateThe Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
My enjoyment rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Book hangover rating:  4 or 5 stars
Source:  Personal copy
Genre:  Juvenile Fiction (Newbery Honor Book)
Objectionable material: none
Calpurnia (Callie) Tate was born a century too soon. More interested in bugs and botany than stitchery and pie making, Callie has blossomed into an inquisitive young lady, thanks to her scientific Granddad. But her mother has other plans – her tatting is terrible, her cooking inedible – Callie must spend more time in the kitchen and less time in Granddad’s lab. But in the few moments of her spare time, she is able to read Darwin’s Theory of Evolution – even if she doesn’t quite understand it.

What a wonderful, robust novel about a turn of the century (20th) girl who has dreams far beyond a farming Texas homestead.

Reading about the family life of the Tate’s was a delight on each page. The relationship between Callie and her brothers (she had 7 of them!) was each unique and special. But the key to it all was Callie’s bond to her grandfather: a Civil War veteran, with a penchant for storytelling and distillery, who took his granddaughter under “his wing” and taught her about dreams and discovery.

One of the many reasons why I loved this book was it reminded me of my grandmother – she was a scientist (a pharmacist) – the first woman to practice in the state of Oklahoma. Oh how I wanted to talk to her while reading this book.

An absolute gem of a book – I highly recommend it for girls (and moms!) trying to achieve their dreams – and, fortunately, at a time when it is all possible.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Book Review -- Small Acts of Amazing Courage

Small Acts of Amazing CourageSmall Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan
My enjoyment rating: 3 of 5 stars
Book hangover rating:  1 of 5 stars
Source: Library copy
Genre:  Juvenile Fiction
Objectionable material:  none

In 1919, Rosalind James would be considered a rebel: defying her parents by listening to the oratory of Gandhi, saving neglected Indian children and helping place them in orphanages, traveling alone on a steamer back to her “native” England whilst helping quell an on board cholera epidemic, helping her spinster Aunt and guardian gain independence from the aunt’s intolerant sister, and inviting a local Indian friend to dinner in spite of the racial implications.

Rosalind does indeed exhibit “small acts of amazing courage” in Gloria Whelan’s juvenile novel about a military family in British colonial India after WWI.

This was a quaint novel – a bit disjointed and muddled – but Rosalind is a delight and I loved her spunk, especially when helping her spinster aunt break free from the evil Aunt Ethyl.

A nice background to British colonial politics and the rise of Gandhi as well.

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